(Photo Credit: Simon Brooks)
The Spoken Word
BAHÁ’Í STORYTELLING HOME PAGE
My name is Anne Jennison and I welcome you to this Bahá’í Storytelling website. These pages are a work in progress and are offered in a spirit of sharing, welcoming everyone who might want to think more deeply about storytelling traditions within the Bahá’í Faith. I've decided to go ahead and make this website public - warts and all - since, to paraphrase a quote by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Life is a workshop, not an art gallery! I'll be continuing to edit, make corrections, and add new stories and storytelling ideas as time goes by, but I'm not going to try to wait for perfection before sharing my ideas. Even though we're always striving for perfection, perfection just doesn't exist in this world - so we offer our best work and then hope for gentle critics.
And one might ask, "Who do I think is in my intended audience for this website?". Good question! Certainly it's intended as a resource for Bahá’ís who are interested in storytelling, but it's also intended for my colleagues: wonderful professional storytellers of all kinds who might be interested in what there is to be said about this thing called "Bahá’í Storytelling". My experience is that both of those groups of people have open, enquiring minds and loving hearts. But - truthfully - I really don't have a clue who's going to be interested in reading about Bahá’í Storytelling, so I hope you'll let me know if you've dropped by and found anything here that's of interest to you.
I'm going out of my way to try to avoid any whiff of "preachiness" on this website and I'm making every effort to avoid using jargon or insider language of any kind (without explaining it). But be forewarned - there are definitely some places here where I've channeled my inner geek! Read what interests you, skip what doesn't. Should you happen to want to know more about the Bahá’í beliefs, there are plenty of trails of breadcrumbs for you to follow in the Resources and References pages. Or you can just zap an email out to me. All that being said, what follows are very brief introductions to the Bahá’í Faith and to Bahá’í Storytelling.
Although the Bahá’í Faith is a very young world religion with a small but growing population, the Encyclopedia Britannica Yearbook has listed the Bahá’í Faith as the second most widespread religion in the world (in terms of geographic reach), after Christianity. The Bahá’í Faith is also incredibly diverse, as about 2,100 indigenous tribes, races, and ethnic groups are represented in the Bahá’í community. That diversity creates the opportunity for the development of a synergistic culture that transcends racial, ethnic, and political boundaries.
Given that every religion gives birth to a culture and every culture has its own stories, it seems to me that dedicating a website to the consideration of the growing storytelling traditions within the Bahá’í community is an idea whose time has come. My hope is to provide some good information and resources for my colleagues within the professional storytelling community as well as for my fellow Bahá’ís.
Who am I and why am I interested in Bahá’í Storytelling? In a nutshell, I've been a member of the Bahá’í Faith since 1980 and a professional storyteller for about 30 years. To learn more about my career as a professional storyteller, feel free to check out my professional website: annejennison.com. In the 30 years I've been storytelling, I've been given the opportunity to think deeply and to consider the value of oral traditions in relation to the modern world. Along the way, after deciding to formalize my apprenticeship as a storyteller, I created a series of independent studies courses in Storytelling for myself, within the formal academic institutions I attended, and created programs of learning that met the stringent academic requirements of those institutions while working with excellent storytelling mentors. By doing this, I earned both an undergraduate degree in Storytelling and a graduate degree in Bahá’í Storytelling. The vast majority of the content I offer in this website has been updated and edited from the material in my original masters thesis, which was entitled simply: The Spoken Word - Bahá’í Storytelling, and was initially researched, written, and published in 1996. My work has been quoted, but not attributed, on other Bahá’í Storytelling websites, and - honestly - that has proven to be a genuine incentive to get me to finally publish my work!
My two main goals for this website are to: (1) share some of the information about Storytelling and Bahá’í Storytelling that I've learned along the way and (2) trade ideas about Bahá’í Storytelling with other interested folks so that we can network with and support one another. Eventually I will gain the technical skills necessary to create a moderated discussion format of some sort, but in the meantime, please feel free to email me from the newsletter page on this website so I can share your questions, concerns, and ideas on the website. Thank you!
Oh - and just a heads up - some of these pages are very much directed to the artistic souls among you and some are directed to the scholarly souls - but all of them have information that relates to storytelling. Pick and choose what appeals to you!
SOME QUICK FACTS ABOUT THE BAHA'I FAITH (SEE RESOURCES PAGE FOR MORE INFO)
Bahá’ís believe there is only one God and that all human being are created equal, regardless of race or gender.
There are more than 5 million Bahá’ís in the world.
The Bahá’í Faith is established in virtually every country and in many dependent territories and overseas departments of countries. Most nations and a few territories have a National Spiritual Assembly elected by the Bahá’ís of that jurisdiction.
The Bahá’í International Community has been registered with the United Nations as a nongovernmental organization since 1948, it holds consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and with UNICEF, and it has an ongoing working relationship with several other U.N. agencies.
Bahá’í writings and other literature have been translated into more than 800 languages.
Bahá’í - Pronounced: "Buh-Hi" "Buh-Ha-Ee", with the accent on the dipthong in the 2nd syllable.
Just FYI: 5-pointed stars, 9-pointed stars, and 19-pointed stars are all often used as symbols of the Bahá’í Faith. The star graphics used on this site were designed by Gary Stewart, a Bahá’í graphic designer. http://www.freewebs.com/bahaistars