May 2008 Go to the Laity Lodge website Subscribe to Laity Lodge News

Meeting Marva Dawn

Laity Lodge is pleased to have Dr. Marva Dawn as our speaker at the June 5-8 retreat (along with Mark Roberts, our Senior Director and Scholar-in-Residence). Marva is a highly regarded theologian and author. She'll be speaking on "a sabbath way of life" out of her latest book, The Sense of the Call. This book, by the way, was recently honored by the Academy of Parish Clergy on its list of Top Ten Books of the Year.

Though Marva is respected and loved by thousands throughout the world, she's new to Laity Lodge. So, to help you get to know her, we asked Paul Seebeck, who frequently does interviews for The High Calling of our Daily Work to introduce us to Marva. Here is Paul's story.

"Meeting Marva Dawn," by Paul Seebeck

An older looking lady in a worn dress needs help as she shuffles her way to the speaker’s podium.

“When I was with my husband on the phone last night, I just started crying,” says Marva Dawn. “I realized I loved my husband even though I didn’t feel it.” 

I had never met Dawn, an internationally renowned theologian, author, and educator.  I also haven’t read any of her 20 books, not even two of her most famous works:  Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down: A Theology of Worship for This Urgent Time, and A Royal "Waste" of Time: The Splendor of Worshiping God and Being Church for the World.  So I wasn’t sure what to expect at a pastor’s conference at Regent College in Vancouver, BC, where Dawn was leading us through cries of lament found in many of the Psalms:  “How long, Lord?” “Why?” and “Where are you in this God?"

Physically handicapped, Dawn wears a leg brace, and is blind in one eye.  She tells us about her tears and her lack of feelings for her husband first.  The latest medication for her malady of physical infirmities is taking its toll.  But she doesn’t wallow in physical or emotional pain. We are hooked by her strength.  We are open to hear how our human emotions are stronger than our intellect – often because of a lack of affirmation growing up.  Yet in our cries of feeling forgotten before God, we can learn to train our heart, our will, to become stronger than our emotion, by letting God in and practicing trust in the gifts of divine kindness. 

At the end of the session, I ask Dawn what she wants Laity Lodge to know about her. 

“That I’d like to be as good as my husband is,” she says.  “He is so gentle, so self-sacrificing, so willing to serve.”

When Dawn is introduced at speaking engagements around the world, they always joke about her four masters degrees (she also has a Ph.D. in Christian Ethics and the Scriptures from Notre Dame).

“It’s a good thing for me to be made fun of for that,” she laughs. “I’ve always been so driven in academics, but what I really need is goodness, the kind that my husband has.” 

Dawn has never been to Kerrville but is “doubly excited” to be at Laity Lodge.  A cousin in Austin who is dying of a brain tumor has told her how wonderful the community is.  She is looking forward to being in the surroundings at Laity Lodge, as she opens herself to what God’s spirit might be asking her to teach.

“My blindness,” she smiles, “has me learning this awareness as both a spiritual and physical practice.”

Suddenly I’m aware that our focus for this conference was the spiritual practice of crying out to God, yet what I remember most about being with Marva Dawn, is the laughter we shared.

Laity Lodge: Summer 2008

We're looking forward to a fantastic summer at Laity Lodge, with outstanding speakers, musicians, and artists, as well as hundreds of friendly guests who are eager to rest, play, learn, and grow at Laity Lodge.

Many of our retreats are full. Several are almost full, but, as of today, you can still register for:

   June 5-8
      Speakers: Marva Dawn and Mark Roberts
      Musician: Charlie Peacock

   June 11-14: Women's Retreat
      Speakers: Marjory Bankson and
             Linda Roberts
      Musician: Cynthia Clawson

   June 26-29 (Just filled up; wait list only)
      Speaker: Gordon MacDonald
      Musicians: Ashley Cleveland and
             Kenny Greenberg

   July 10-13: Couples' Retreat
      Speakers: Dave and Jan Stoop
      Musician: Nathan Tasker

   July 31- August 3
      Speakers: Lauren Winner and
             Tod Bolsinger
      Musicians: Brian Moss and Josef Luptak

August 29-September 1: Labor Day Weekend
      Speaker and Musician: Michael Card

For more information, please visit the Laity Lodge website. Or, if you prefer, call our Registrar, Ann Jack, at 830-792-1230.

Give the Gift of a Laity Lodge Retreat

Have you ever considered giving the gift of a Laity Lodge retreat? Each year, dozens of folk who love Laity Lodge share the experience by giving a retreat to their children, friends, or neighbors. What better way to encourage those you care about and want to see grow in their faith?

You can give a gift of a specific retreat (for example, the Labor Day Weekend retreat). Or you can give a gift certificate that can be used for a wide variety of Laity Lodge retreats. Simply call Ann Jack at 830-792-1230, and she'll help you with the details.

Keep Laity Lodge retreats in mind for Christmas, birthdays, and other festive gift-giving occasions.

Ann Jack Becomes the Laity Lodge Church Liaison

by Mark Roberts

Ann Jack, the Laity Lodge Registrar, has recently taken on an additional role as the Laity Lodge Church Liaison. In this position, Ann will work closely with churches that have retreats at Laity Lodge. She will assist churches, not only with registration, but also with promotion and planning. Ann's experience and support will help our church retreats to be even stronger. Steven and I are delighted to be teaming up with Ann as we work together with our church partners.

New Speakers at Laity Lodge

We are excited to share some of the new speakers who will be coming to Laity Lodge in the next couple of years:

Michael Lindsay: Assistant Professor of Sociology at Rice University; author of the award-winning Faith in the Halls of Power

Ben Witherington III: Professor of New Testament, Asbury Seminar; author of dozens of excellent books and biblical commentaries

Scot McKnight: Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University; award-winning author of several books, including The Jesus Creed

Dan Blazer: Professor of Psychiatry at Duke University; author of Freud vs. God.

Stay tuned for more information . . .

The Laity Lodge Team . . .

Tim Blanks
Director of

Ann Jack
Registrar and
Church Liaison

Steven Purcell

Mark Roberts
Senior Director
and Scholar-in-Residence

Connie Taylor
Administrative Coordinator



 P. O. Box 290670, Kerrville, TX 78029-0670                   Phone: 830-792-1230                      Fax: 830-792-1237