light we see

Would You Tell a Story at an “Interfaith Event?”

[This article originally appeared in Pam Faro’s Story Tracks February 2015 newsletter.]

Imagine this…

You are invited to tell a story – for pay, even! – at an occasion described as an “interfaith event.” What would you tell?

Do you have a story that springs to mind? Several? None?

Would you even want to tell at such an event? Why or why not?

I realize that my calling it “an interfaith event” and leaving it at that leaves out specific, descriptive details that might otherwise guide your decision-making (exactly who, why, where, etc.) – but go with me on this…

Let’s imagine that you DO want to tell at such an event – What makes a story a good choice for an interfaith event?

I once asked this question in a workshop I was leading – and there was one woman who was certain she did not have an appropriate story in her repertoire – and this woman has been a professional storyteller for 30+ years! Her repertoire of stories is huge and rich!

I teased her by saying, “What if they paid you $500 for it?!” Everyone laughed with delight; yet “No-o-o,” she said. “What if they were paying $800?” More laughter, and another “No-o-o-o…” “Kay, they are going to pay you $1000 dollars to tell a story at this interfaith event, and you’re telling me you can’t think of one story to tell?” “Well-ll-ll…” And everybody belly laughed.

Why was she finding it so difficult to identify a story to tell at an interfaith event?

I think it was because, at first, she was thinking that “interfaith” must mean having to do with organized religion – “church,” etc. And church/religion/faith is not something she currently practices or is personally connected to. She doesn’t have stories in her repertoire from the Bible, or the Buddha’s teachings, or anything else she identified with a religion or faith.

Do you have such stories? Or not? Does it matter?

Here are some of the questions we explored in the workshop:

  • What makes a story sacred?
  • What makes a story spiritual?
  • What makes a story part of a faith tradition?
  • Is there a difference between a “religion” and a “faith tradition?”
  • Is a “spiritual” story the same as a “religious” story?

And how about this? – Storytelling nourishes the spirit, whether sharing sacred stories or other stories…doesn’t it?

It was fascinating and eye-opening for workshop participants to discuss these questions and concepts, often with others from very different backgrounds and with varied, interesting ideas.

What do YOU think?

Is storytelling itself “sacred?” Is storytelling a “spiritual” experience or endeavor?

On your mark, get set…Discuss!

Thanks for reading – Pam Faro

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Upcoming Workshops on This Topic…

San Francisco Bay Area: I’ll be giving the workshop “Storytelling across Faiths and Cultures” this Saturday, February 14 at the annual Southbay Storytellers and Listeners Winter Workshop & Swap; Palo Alto, CA. It would be great to see you there!

Northlands Storytelling Conference, April 24-26, in Lake Geneva, WI. Another iteration of this workshop, “Interfaith Interplay: Sharing Sacred or Spiritual Stories.”

[If you’d be interested in bringing this workshop to your area, contact me at: pamfaro@storycrossings.com]