From Kamloops This Week:
The shortest way to a person’s heart is through a story,” goes an old Hebrew saying.
It’s nice to know ancient wisdom and contemporary research all point to the same reality.
If you want to talk about technology or economics or science, assemble your data and refine your logic into a punchy PowerPoint presentation — and you’re a winner. Stick to things you can count and classify.
Humans are storytelling animals.
Anthropologists argue that the skill that most separates humans from other primates is speech — and we use that skill most effectively to tell each other stories. Our stories provide the framework of our culture. They tell us who we are.
Some years ago, I gave a seminar on communications to a group of advertising executives in an office tower on Madison Avenue in New York City.
“Jesus, aside from everything else he may have been, was a highly skilled communicator,” I said, reading skepticism on every face.
“He told stories. He made up stories called parables. We’re still telling those stories in every language of the world 2,000 years later. The stories you tell have the life expectancy of your advertising budget.”
Stories are like jokes. If you have to explain them, they’re dead.
Christians of all kinds make the same mistake of over-analyzing and explaining those Jesus stories, as well as all the grand sagas of the Hebrews we find in the Old Testament.
A story is a living thing. Dissect it and you kill it. The other mistake we make is in taking ourselves too seriously.
Those of us who have been around for many decades know that if you want to hear divine laughter, tell God your plans.
Another way to generate God’s laughter is to explain your theology or your method of Bible study. The power and strength of all great religious traditions is carried in their stories, their sagas, their worship.
Bible study, theological discourse and careful analysis is crucial and can keep us from slipping into the cultural swamp. In the life of faith, it has a necessary, but supporting role.
If it takes over, it squeezes out the life-giving juice. It offers a recipe when what we need is food. It offers a stone when what is needed is bread.
If we don’t listen deeply to the stories, our faith will be arid. A shell of practise without passion. A lifeless structure of rhetoric and ritual.
That’s why a bunch of us are going to get together to spend a day listening to those fine old stories, allowing our souls to marinate in those tales and discover how those stories connect with our own personal stories.
There won’t be any preaching or teaching or analyzing — just stories, as art, as music, as poetry and as narrative. We’ll let those stories have their way with us.
And it will be fun.
Ralph Milton is one of the storytellers at StoryFEST, which takes place on Saturday, Sept. 23, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Kamloops United Church, at St. Paul Street and Fourth Avenue downtown. Admission is $10 and includes lunch. To reserve a spot, call the church at 250-372-2050.
KTW welcomes submissions to its Faith page. Columns should be between 600 and 800 words in length and can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a brief bio and a photo.
StoryFEST, which takes place on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Kamloops United Church, offers a spiritual shot-in-the-arm, focusing on evocative Bible stories and personal faith experiences.
The festival in Kamloops is one of three taking place in the Thompson-Okanagan. Summerland United Church will host an event on Oct. 28 and First United Church in Kelowna will be storytelling central on
The events will feature professional storytellers, musicians and artists for a full day of story-telling, singing and faith sharing. The festivals will be filmed to create nine video programs that will be used in study groups across the country and throughout the English-speaking world.
Ideas and stories generated by StoryFEST will feed into a book on story-telling authored by Ralph Milton and published by Wood Lake.
Admission to StoryFEST is $10 per person and includes lunch.
For tickets, call 250-372-2050 or go online to http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3055840.