Storytelling is a potent tool in interfaith dialogue, enabling individuals from diverse faith traditions to share their experiences and beliefs in a manner that is both relatable and comprehensible to others. The importance of storytelling is further underscored by the fact that stories have the power to sway people, influencing policies, politics, and indeed, the world at large. For instance, during World War II, America had a list of Japanese cities to be bombed, with Kyoto at the top. However, the then-Secretary of War, having honeymooned in Kyoto and appreciated its rich culture, decided to exclude it. Ultimately, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed, with Kyoto spared, thus proving the power of storytelling to influence outcomes.
Storytelling in interfaith dialogue fosters connections, empathy, and understanding among people. Personal stories facilitate the breakdown of stereotypes and barriers that may exist between people of different faiths.
Through the sharing of stories, people can gain a deeper appreciation of each other's beliefs, practices, and values, which, in turn, promotes dialogue and encourages the asking of questions to seek clarification. The sharing of stories can also build bridges between people of diverse faiths, opening up new perspectives and leading to greater appreciation for the diversity of religious beliefs and practices. Finally, storytelling can foster respect by creating a culture of listening, learning, and valuing the experiences and beliefs of others.
Overall, storytelling is an essential tool in interfaith dialogue, creating a space for empathy, understanding, and respect to develop, and helping to build bridges between people of different faiths.
- Peace, Jennifer. Or Rose and Gregory Mobley, eds. My Neighbor's Faith: Stories of Interreligious Encounter, Growth and Transformation. New York: Orbis Books, 2012.
Anubhav Singh is a third year Ph.D. student in Materials Engineering.