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.