Titles: Professor of French & Interdisciplinary Studies and Director, Mercer Commons (A Center for Faith, Learning & Vocation)
Interests: Modern French Religious Writers (especially Simone Weil, Jacques Maritain, and the novelists Julien Green, Georges Bernanos, François Mauriac, Léon Bloy, Michel Tournier, and Vladimir Volkoff).
Favorite Links: Faculty/Staff Christian Fellowship (FCF), Duke Basketball Report , Tennessee Bob's Famous French Links, Meet the Prof, Leadership U, the University of Virginia's online French texts, Le Figaro, and Le Cercle Français.
Biographical Sketch: John Marson Dunaway
Born June 24, 1945 in Washington, Georgia. Married with three children, six grandchildren. Grew up in Rockmart, Georgia, graduating from Rockmart High School (1963).
- B. A. from Emory University (1967).
- M. A. & Ph. D. from Duke University (1972).
Has taught French & interdisciplinary studies at Mercer University, Macon, GA, since 1972. Publications include seven books:
- The Metamorphoses of the Self: The Mystic, the Sensualist, and the Artist in the Works of Julien Green. Lexington: U P of Kentucky, 1978
- Jacques Maritain. Boston: Twayne, 1978
- Simone Weil. Boston: Twayne, 1984
- Exiles and Fugitives: The Letters of Jacques and Raissa Maritain, Allen Tate, and Caroline Gordon. Baton Rouge: LSU P, 1992.
- The Beauty That Saves: Essays on Aesthetics and Language in Simone Weil. Macon, GA: Mercer U P, 1996. (Co-edited with Eric O. Springsted)
- The Double Vocation: Christian Presence in Twentieth-Century French Fiction. Birmingham, AL: Summa, 1996.
- Gladly Learn, Gladly Teach: Living Out One's Calling in the 20th-Century Academy. Macon: Mercer UP, 2005.
In Progress: Translation of Vladimir Volkoff’s 2004 novel L’Hôte du pape (The Pope’s Guest). Translation of Volkoff’s 2006 novel Le Tortionnaire (The Torturer).
Member of Emmanuel Church of Macon, Georgia in since 1980 (home fellowship leader, former elder).
Founded Faculty/Staff Christian Fellowship at Mercer in 1998.
Leisure interests include: reading, bicycling, walking, golf, college football, Duke basketball, Braves baseball.
Favorite books: Dante’s Divine Comedy, Simone Weil’s Waiting for God, Georges Bernanos’s Diary of a Country Priest, The Golden Book of Poetry.
Favorite movies: The Godfather, Lonesome Dove, and Fellini’s La Strada
Testimony: John Marson Dunaway
Reared in a Christian home, I enjoyed the wonderful benefits of a godly heritage. My maternal grandfather was a Methodist minister, and my parents were faithful members of the local Methodist Church in the small Georgia town, Rockmart, where I grew up. For much of my childhood I could not imagine there would be such a thing in the world as people who weren’t Christians. During my teens every summer I attended the Methodist youth camp in the North Georgia mountains, and one summer I interpreted the mountain-top experience at Camp Glisson as the "call to preach." I attended Duke University on a Christian Vocations Scholarship, but during my college years I had to deal with many of the typical intellectual doubts that go with that stage of life. Although I never really doubted God’s existence, I found myself growing further away from the church and began to wonder if my prayers--infrequent though they were--ever reached above the ceiling. In fact, for years I found it too hypocritical to pray "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done," because I really couldn’t mean what I was saying. My last two years as an undergraduate I transferred to Emory University--mainly to get closer to my girlfriend--where the campus was continually abuzz with the "Death of God" controversy. I attended many of the lectures, read Thomas J. J. Altizer’s The Gospel of Christian Atheism, and even took one of Altizer’s classes. Rudolf Bultmann’s de-mythologizing project and Bishop John A. T. Robinson’s classic handbook to ‘60's liberalism Honest to God were typical of my theological input during those days. I recall the title of a paper I wrote for one of my theology classes, "A Religion-less Concept of Prayer."
During graduate school I gravitated toward the religious writers of modern France, and the diary of Julien Green was a real inspiration to me. Becoming a parent also was a motivating factor in coming back to the church. When our first child was born, it dawned upon me with sobering heaviness that I now was responsible for this little human being’s welfare, not only financially and educationally, but spiritually as well. I realized in a panic that all those tough questions about the meaning of life that I’d been putting on the back burner were going to be posed to me by my children and that they deserved to be answered in ways that my current state of wisdom could not provide.
When we moved to Macon in 1972 to start my teaching career at Mercer University, we joined a church, went to Sunday School, and even began to serve as youth counselors. But I somehow sensed that I was in dire need of discipline in my spiritual life. The event that God used to bring me into close communion with him was a Senior-High youth assembly at Epworth-by-the-Sea. The theme of the weekend was discipleship, and the main speaker, Danny Morris, challenged us to get serious about our faith by committing to a month of spiritual discipline called the Ten Brave Christians program (also known as the John Wesley Great Experiment). This was in February of 1975. The five disciplines of the program were: 1) spending the first 30 minutes of the day in guided Bible study and prayer; 2) tithing; 3) witnessing to others about my faith; 4) meeting weekly with a group of others going through the Experiment; and 5) performing at least one completely unselfish act each week. Ever since that time, I have endeavored--with varying degrees of success--to live up to that commitment, and it has revolutionized my life.
My search for my true vocation led me, in 1998, to establish a Faculty/Staff Christian Fellowship at Mercer. Through the help of Christian Leadership Ministries I have met colleagues with a similar vision for ministry in academia all over the country. Recently I’ve read two excellent books that have helped me seek out and identify God’s special calling on my life: Os Guinness’s The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life (Nashville: Word Publ., 1998) and James Sire’s Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling (Downer’s Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2000). I recommend them highly. I now am growing toward conceiving of ways to live the intellectual life in my university community "as unto the Lord." I pray that I will somehow be able to communicate to my students and colleagues the joy of knowing and serving our Creator.