Revealing our true story

Alban Institute works with personal storytelling to find inner narratives that offer a better base for living one’s life.

We have worked with clergy groups to help them become better acquainted with their inner stories, using several strategies to take them back to the cutting room floor to look for a “this is my story” plot down there. Perhaps the most striking strategy is inviting them to tell us their earliest childhood memory. Alfred Adler first developed this strategy with his therapy clients. When asked to recall an early memory, Adler said, out of the incalculable number of possibilities, people select those that have a bearing on their present life situation. These early recollections are laden with clues about their “Story of My Life.” Although they may not be aware of their life narrative, they are using it to understand the present and to anticipate the future with “an already tested style of action” (What Life Should Mean to You, Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1931, 73-74).

Alban Institute shows how Jesus used parable to challenge the dominant paradigm (or story) of people living in his day:

The story told by the elite was that because the peasants lived in such dire circumstances they should fight with one another for survival. Hospitality was a silly and extravagant practice for people in their position. The ruling class had an investment in peasants treating each other inhospitably, because it served to demoralize them. A demoralized peasantry was much easier to manipulate and exploit. To his hearers’ surprise, Jesus told a parable that said their simple practice of hospitality was no small thing. It revealed the sharp contrast between their humanity and the ruthless inhumanity of the ruling class. The village practice of hospitality was a taste of the messianic banquet.

Read more here.

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