Mark D. Roberts

No, I’m not talking about designer labels. Not Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, but Lauren Winner and Calvin Miller. They were speaking at our most recent Laity Lodge retreat.
If you know Lauren and Calvin, you might think they’re an odd match. There is about a forty-year gap in their ages. Lauren is an East Coast intellectual Christian who was raised as a Jew and now teaches at Duke Divinity School. Calvin is Midwestern/Southern pastor and fiction writer who has spent his most recent years a Beeson Divinity School. At least they have div school teaching in common.
They also have written several excellent books. Calvin Miller has over forty books to his credit, both fiction and non-fiction. He read a parable of “Sleeping Ugly” from his book, The Unfinished Soul: Happening Upon Jesus in the Happenstance of Life. It was fantastic: clever, hilarious, tender, insightful, evangelical. Among Lauren’s books, perhaps the most influential has been Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation to the Life of Spiritual Disciplines. In this fine book, she reflects upon Christian disciplines from the perspective of one who grew up as a Jew.
Lauren and Calvin turned out to be a fantastic match, complementing each other wonderfully. They both spoke about prayer, bringing their unique perspectives and personalities.
Lauren Winner is fascinating: funny, bold, brilliant, edgy, and rock solid in her Christian faith. She is one of my favorite speakers at Laity Lodge because I always learn a lot from her, and enjoy the learning process. Lauren makes me think and helps me to grow in my relationship with the Lord. In one of her messages this past weekend, she talked about why we have a hard time praying. Among her reasons was: “We get bored.” She talked about her own struggle with boredom prayer. I think her point is absolutely right on. And I also think very few Christian leaders have the guts to admit that they struggle with boredom in prayer. (I know I do!) Lauren, having made her second visit to Laity Lodge, is becoming one of our favorite speakers.
I had never heard Calvin Miller before this weekend, though I remember reading his books. When I was in college, his fictional The Singer trilogy was hot stuff in my Christian fellowship group. He has also written several non-fiction books as well. I was eager to hear Calvin Miller in person, because you’re never quite sure how an author sounds. Well, I’m here to tell you that Calvin was an absolute delight: hilarious, creative, humble, wise, compassionate, joyful. He quickly was added to my short list of best speakers I have heard at Laity Lodge. Calvin spoke on prayer from a Celtic perspective. You can find many of his insights in his book: The Path of Celtic Prayer: An Ancient Way to Everyday Joy.  But no matter how good this book is, you won’t get to experience the “everyday joy” of simply being with Calvin Miller.
This past retreat also featured one of my favorite artists, Jim Janknegt of Elgin, Texas. Check out some of paintings online.  Music for the retreat was provided by Charles Webb of Indiana University School of Music, and one of his students, the amazing baritone, Christopher Bolduc.
This past Laity Lodge retreat was one of those times when I rubbed my eyes, looked around, and still couldn’t quite believe that I get to part of such a fantastic ministry.

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