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Turning Hearts to God and Family through Telling and Writing Sacred Stories David C. Dollahite, Ph.D. Professor of Family Life Brigham Young University.

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Presentation on theme: "Turning Hearts to God and Family through Telling and Writing Sacred Stories David C. Dollahite, Ph.D. Professor of Family Life Brigham Young University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Turning Hearts to God and Family through Telling and Writing Sacred Stories David C. Dollahite, Ph.D. Professor of Family Life Brigham Young University Wilson Folklore Archives Founders Lecture Harold B. Lee Library November 10, 2011

2 The Spirit of Elijah Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6)

3 The Spirit of Elijah: Turning the Hearts of the Living to the Living “It is time for us to think of turning the hearts of parents to children now while living, that there might be a bond between parents and children that will last beyond death. It is a very real principle, and we should consider it.” President Boyd K. Packer

4 Hasidic Jewish Saying Give people a fact, and you enlighten their minds; tell them a story and you touch their souls.

5 In the entry on “family story and myth” in the Marriage and Family Encyclopedia, it states that family stories: “help bind the members of the family together by creating a community of memory, a chronicle of the way a particular family thinks about itself,” “enrich the perspectives family members have regarding intergenerational relationships.” Ponzetti, J. J., & Kellar-Guenther, Y. (). Family Stories and Myths. In The Marriage and Family Encyclopedia. Available online at (

6 The Power of Stories Stories: are about life as it is lived have surprises, twists, heroes, action capture the essence of life keep listeners involved and interested usually are hopeful touch hearts, minds, and spirits

7 An Invitation During this talk you might think of a sacred story that you would like to share and/or record with loved ones. I Invite you to write down whatever promptings you receive and then act on them.

8 Why So Much TV and Novels? Deep hunger for stories in human beings and TV stories (even bad ones) and novels fill that gap Entertainment-saturated culture created by professionals Less telling of important stories in families Passive entertainment (watchers, listeners, & clickers) Thus, we don’t talk to each other enough in families nor tell each other thing things of our souls.

9 Turning Hearts Through Sacred Stories Sacred stories are stories with deepest meaning These “stories of the soul” deal with values, gospel truths, and other meaningful things Include stories of important spiritual changes in your life and of your ancestors

10 Megan’s story:

11 Your Reaction to Story? Different from “ideas” I had been sharing? Perhaps paid a little more attention? Perhaps prompted feelings & thoughts? Story may have been motivating? (Dads)

12 Kinds of Family Storytelling Most Likely to Turn Hearts True stories/lived experience Stories involving family members Sacred stories of one’s faith tradition Personal sacred stories (missionary & conversion stories)

13 Couple Stories Parent Stories Child Stories Grand parent Stories Sibling Stories Our FAMILY

14 “Your Grandpa is a Hero” One story I tell my children is about their grandpa, my father, when he acted heroically (in my mind) or from a sense of duty (in his mind):

15 Stories of Our Family’s Spiritual/Religious Experiences How our family worships together What our family considers answers to prayer What important spiritual experiences our family has had Miracles our family has experienced What important blessings our family has received

16 Best Time to Tell Sacred Stories—Anytime, All the Time Dinner time (earn dessert with story) Bed time (kids most receptive) Family home evening (ancestor game) Reading scriptures (application stories) In the car while traveling (journey stories) At the “Crossroads” (decision time)

17 Stories Of Miracles Stories of Healing Stories of Service Stories of kindness Stories Of change Sacred STORIES

18 Minor Miracle in the Desert “He paid for your starter... “

19 New Approaches Embrace new avenues of sharing stories in ways that fit comfortably into present day culture. Internet helps people satisfy a deep and universal need to tell their stories.

20 Social Networking as Storytelling Proliferation of social networking sites, blogs, and digital video testify that we desire to tell our stories, connect with other human beings, and be remembered Try not to become absorbed/lost in all the minutia and try also to tell and record sacred stories of transcendent meaning

21 Stories on Paper Stories on Audio-tape Stories on Photographs Stories on Video-tape Stories On computer storing STORIES

22 Some Storage Examples Video tape: Fairfax stories Audio tape: Aunt Eunice Paper (spiritual autobiography) Photos: Rachel scrapbook of Amherst trip Computers: Grandpa Iver picture book

23 Consume Garbage or Create Treasures? Many use their computers to consume virtual garbage You and your family members can use your computer to create familial treasures

24 Kid History Videos done by an LDS family (6 so far) that tell family stories from the kid’s perspective and acted out by the adults LldZOg&feature=related (6 minutes) LldZOg&feature=related

25 Article on Family Storytelling es/2004/Summer/familybonds.aspx es/2004/Summer/familybonds.aspx

26 Some Good Scholarly Books Story Re-Visions by Alan Parry & Robert E. Doan (1994, Guildford Press) Ethics and Process in The Narrative Study of Lives edited by Ruthellen Josselson (1996, Sage) Narrative Solutions in Brief Therapy by Joseph B. Eron & Thomas W. Lund (1996, Guilford) Telling Stories by Michael Roemer (1995 Rowman & Littlefield)

27 Some Good Practical Books Keeping Family Stories Alive by Vera Rosenbluth (1997, Hartley & Marks) The Gift of Stories by Robert Atkinson (1995, Bergin & Garvey) Living Legacies by Duane Elgin & Coleen LeDrew (2001, Conari Press) Your Mythic Journey by Sam Keen & Anne Valley-Fox (1989, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Perigee)

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