Dr. Lauren Winner will be visiting AU as part of the Truth, Faith, and Service speaker series. The series focuses on the values found on the AU seal: utilitas (service), fidelitas (faith), and veritas (truth).
Winner’s speech will take place on Friday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. in York Performance Hall as part of the year-long Centennial celebration at AU.
Winner works at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina as an associate professor of Christian spirituality. Beyond teaching, she writes about the Christian practice, Jewish-Christian relations and the history of Christianity in America.
Winner has written multiple books, including Girl Meets God, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, Mudhouse Sabbath, A Cheerful and Comfortable Faith, and Wearing God. She is currently finishing a book about the effect of damage and sin on Christianity called Characteristic Damage.
Winner recommends that college students read her book Wearing God, which is a book that explores biblical imagery for God. She said that her aim there is to “expand the reader’s imagination around who God is by attending to biblical passages that we too often ignore. Certainly, my own imagination was expanded by writing it!”
Her research has been supported by multiple institutions as well. Some of these universities include Monticello, the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University, the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts. She has also been a commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered and a guest on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly on PBS.
She has also written for The Washington Post Book World, Books and Culture, The New York Times Book Review, and Christianity Today. Many of her essays have also been in several volumes of The Best Christian Writing.
Beyond writing and teaching at Duke Divinity School, she is also an Episcopal priest and vicar of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Louisburg N.C.
Winner said she always feels like she is “shortchanging something” when it comes to managing her various roles. Right now, she feels that she is not reading enough. “I need to be reading to do the authoring, priesting and professing well, but I’m not sure what to give up to make space for the reading.”
Winner was raised Jewish and had a “several-years-conversion” when she was in college. She was baptized when she was 20. “I came to my Christian faith as we all do,” she said, “I was lured there by Jesus.”
As for her career in Christian spirituality, Dr. Winner says she feels she is “one of those lucky people who thinks ‘they pay me to do this? To teach classes about prayer and about Teresa of Avila and about civil disobedience as Christian practice and about preaching through the church year?’”
Winner’s passion for writing has been with her since an early age. She said that since she was in the first or second grade, she “always had a pen in hand.” Conversing has never been a strength for her and she said she “doesn’t think deep thoughts while walking alone in the woods.”
Winner stated that the only way she knows what she thinks about anything is to write about it. She also said that “sometimes it’s not ‘till draft five or nineteen that I really clarify what I think, of course.”
Of three themes of her speech, service, faith and truth, she personally values faith the most out of the three. She stated that she thinks it can be “helpful to think of faith as a verb—the biblical Greek helps us see ‘faith’ as a verb, by the way.” While she values faith the most, she added, “I wish I identified more with service, but I am hopelessly self-centered.”