Take Up and Read

St. Augustine tells his conversion story in Confessions, where he describes a voice repeatedly calling him to tolle lege—take up and read—the Scripture.

If you invite me over to your house sometime, once we’ve said our greetings and settled in, you may find me wandering over to your bookcase. It’s my way of learning about people—what they do for work and leisure, where they travel, what they put their minds to over the course of their lives.

Books in a home are like a fingerprint. No two collections are exactly the same.

Several months after Howard Butt Jr. and Barbara Dan passed, I had the privilege of walking through their home with the assignment of collecting books I thought would be appropriate for Laity Lodge. Sure enough, their stuffed bookshelves were a window into their curiosities: theology, psychology, business and leadership, crime stories, biographies, mysteries, travel, art, politics, and more.

As I hovered over titles and pulled some to keep, it occurred to me that these books were not just about Howard and Barbara Dan. These books were about who we are—these are the literary fingerprint of Laity Lodge and the H. E. Butt Foundation.

Over the past months of quarantine, we began creating a list of the books, articles, and talks that capture the unique spirit and identity of Laity Lodge. Of course, Howard Butt Jr. believed that Holy Scripture provided a coherent picture of the world—its creation, brokenness, and ultimate redemption in Christ. Scripture, therefore, is the fundamental text that has shaped the Foundation. But as Eugene Peterson used to say, writers serve as friends and allies in shaping a Biblical imagination. Mrs. Butt, Sr. was a lover of literature, and she believed this so deeply that she placed poetry, Scripture, and literary quotations across the Canyon on any flat surface she could find. Those works, too, belong on our bookshelf.

Some of these writings find their origin in the diaries of Mrs. Butt, Sr. Many of these authors are people Howard Butt Jr. admired and forged relationships with at Laity Lodge. Some of the titles represent the more current convictions of David and Deborah Rogers.

It’s also worth saying: this is a dynamic list. These books reflect the intellectual imagination of the H. E. Butt Foundation over several decades, and we look forward to the ways our imagination will continue to grow and expand as we discover new voices.

And what will all these titles tell you about who we are? I hope they reflect our sustained love for Scripture and authors who inspire a vision of the world in which God is making all things new in Christ. You’ll notice reflections on leadership that emphasize service and sacrifice. You’ll detect our interest in the gifts of creation and the human endeavors of art, literature, and culture-making. You’ll also find a commitment to healthy and whole individuals and communities, and a striving to understand why people and communities are broken. All these topics have been and will continue to be part of our learning and our formation.

Servant Leadership

Howard Butt spent much of his adult life writing and thinking about leadership. He was particularly interested in trying to be a servant leader to those around him, balancing authority and submission, strength and humility. We find unique wisdom on this subject from each of these writers.

Howard Butt Jr.
The Velvet Covered Brick | Learn More

Andy Crouch
Play God: Redeeming the Gift of Power | Learn More

Max DePree
Leadership is an Art | Learn More

Henri Nouwen
In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership | Learn More

Spiritual Maturity

Maturity doesn’t just happen—it has to be practiced. Life involves growth, and growth involves change. These authors help us stay teachable—ready and willing, with patience and trust, to adapt to the challenges that arise in our life, our work, and our faith.

Frederick Buechner
Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons | Learn More

James H. Cone
The Cross and the Lynching Tree | Learn More

Eugene Peterson
Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ | Learn More

N. T. Wright
After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters | Learn More

Creation and Culture

We believe God calls us to steward the natural and cultural spaces in our world—from the way we engage our physical environment to the way we defend and celebrate each other.

Wendell Berry
The Art of the Commonplace | Learn More

Kathleen Norris
Quotidian Mysteries | Learn More

Biblical Resources

Rooted in Christian faith and brought to life by our shared values, we continue to look to the Bible to nurture the human spirit and guide relationships with others.

Frederick Dale Bruner
Matthew: A Commentary. Volumes I & II | Learn More

Sally Lloyd Jones
The Jesus Storybook Bible | Learn More

Eugene Peterson
The Message | Learn More

The Arts

Artists exemplify God’s own capacity to create. When we engage with art and with artists like these, we enlarge our capacity to attend to God’s creation and understand our roles as image bearing creators.

Olga Samples Davis
Things My Mama Told Me | Learn More

Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God | Learn More

Madeleine L’Engle
Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art | Learn More

Emotional Health

Mental health, including an awareness of our own inner life and intimate relationships, has been a theme for the Foundation for decades, from Tournier’s participation in a Laity Lodge retreat in the 1970s to Bishop Tutu’s participation at our penultimate Laity Lodge Forum event.

Paul Tournier
To Understand Each Other or The Meaning of Persons | Learn More

Desmond Tutu
No Future Without Forgiveness | Learn More


Laity Lodge draws its name and inspiration from the idea that life (and work) is sacred and that Christ calls us to be agents of his redemptive work in the world—restoring what is broken, creating beauty, cultivating what is good.

Steven Garber
The Seamless Life: A Tapestry of Love & Learning, Worship & Work | Learn More

Brother Lawrence
The Practice of the Presence of God | Learn More


Daily wisdom from a pastor, scholar, leader and former Sr. Director of Laity Lodge.

Mark Roberts
The Daily Reflection | Learn More

We’ll also keep building our bookshelf as we find new friends and allies. Follow along at the link below.

Laity Lodge Bookshelf

More from this issue

How An Epidemic Helped Create Camp

Nearly 100 years ago, the Butt family faced a sickness worse than COVID-19.

"Tomorrow's A Good Day"

How a budding partnership with the Family Independence Initiative is helping families survive on their own terms.

When We Meet Again

A pandemic forces cancellations for good health.

Introducing Alex Bailey

Childhood memories have turned into a lifelong passion for the new Outdoor School Director.

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