Years ago, I was a professor a professor of world religions at Niagara University. I taught with the stories unique to each tradition — Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and others. These stories touch the imagination and the heart, leading us to wisdom.
In the 35 years since teaching those courses, I tell these stories to audiences seeking to understand those whose faith was different from their own. My hope is that these stories build bridges so that we can take a journey of the heart and meet our brothers and sisters in the realm of their own religious inspiration.
These sacred storytelling concerts always include tales from at least three different religious traditions. They can be organized around a theme — such as Justice, Mercy, Compassion, Wisdom. Or they can be scheduled around feast days honoring one of those traditions
My largest collection of stories are from Jewish sources (such as Hasidic tales); Islamic sources (from Sufi tradition); Native American sources from the indigenous people of North America, and — of course — stories from my own Christian tradition. I also tell some tales from Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism.
I tell these stories without commentary, letting them deliver their own message to the heart of each listener. And I am happy to process these stories with the audience without engaging in beliefs, doctrines, or practices which might divide us. In my mind, it is important to let the stories speak for themselves and the traditions from which they arise.
So why debate our differences? They are real, and we do respect them. At the same time, we can celebrate what we have in common through powerful images generated in the sacred art of storyelling.
Peace. Pax, Shalom, Sala’am, Namaste.
— Robert Béla Wilhelm