Letter to the editor: A tribute to Tommie Davis
Dr. Charles Thomas "Tommie" Davis III was born in 1939 and raised in South Alabama. He attended Emory University in Atlanta, and from that school he received his doctoral degree in philosophy and religion.
Appalachian State Teachers College hired him in 1967, and he immediately began to pay his dues, because he had an office that was a room 10-feet by five-feet.
The room had a desk, two chairs and a small bookcase. In six months, he moved into an instructor's office, and he said that he finally had room to breathe.
Originally, Tommie taught classes as he had been trained -- he told his students to read the assigned material, listen to the lectures, ask clarifying questions and then be ready for a test. But as time passed, Tommie found that more and more students were taking his classes who had no background in any church or Bible reading.
These students were asking hard questions: Who is Jesus? Do I need to believe in Jesus? For that matter, does God really exist? Tommie's schooling and background had not prepared him to answer these tough questions.
He had always believed in God and Jesus, but his present students were from a later generation, and many of them were skeptical of religion in general. He was determined to find an answer that would help them.
In 1972, Tommie decided to try a new approach. After much reading, study and prayer, he had a "revelation." He had realized that the scientific, analytical method (breaking things down into component parts and analyzing them) is adequate for sending astronauts to the moon, but is of no help in experiencing the power and presence of God.
What he proposed for his students was to take time each day and quiet one's mind from all the busy activities we have in the outside world and the many concerns we have in our personal life.
Tommie suggested many spiritual exercises to his students from the Christian tradition, as well as others. For some students, this approach did not work, but for others, it was enlightening. Tommie said that a young woman student came to him and said that as a result of her quiet times she became convinced that God was calling her to change her major and go into a vocation of helping the less fortunate and the elderly.
Needless to say, his students still had to attend class, read the assignments and take tests.
Tommie was an active man who exercised every day, as well as performing his spiritual exercises. During the years, he walked, ran and bicycled.
For a number of years he participated in the Bridge to Bridge bicycle race. He retired in 2004 after 37 years of teaching.
When Tommie died (or as he would say stepped into the world of spirit), he left Holland, his wife of 51 years, and his son, Eric, his wife, and two daughters.
-- By the Rev. George L. Hawkins