The Spoken Word - Bahá’í Storytelling

by Anne Jennison

     Many years ago, when I originally began researching and writing my masters thesis,  The Spoken Word:  Bahá’í Storytelling, I took this quote (above) as my guiding principle.  Now, thirty years into my career as a storyteller, I continue to ponder the meaning of these words about the power of the spoken word, and it seems quite appropriate to share this quote to introduce a website that is dedicated to the art of Bahá’í Storytelling.  Perhaps the quote will resonate with you as well.  For me, the bottom line is clear:  all words, both written and spoken, are powerful - but special care must be taken with the ways in which spoken words are wielded.  

     The basic premise of this website is that every religion, including the Bahá’í Faith, has given birth to a culture that manifests its own unique identity, including:  religious texts, literature, family structures, music, arts, food ways, clothing styles, holy days and holidays, and - of course - stories and oral traditions.  The primary goal of this website is to consider the ways in which the spoken word - in the form of storytelling and oral traditions - can be used to enrich the Bahá’í experience, both for those who practice the Bahá’í Faith and those who befriend Bahá’í's.  To that end, I'll be sharing excerpts from "The Spoken Word - Bahá’í Storytelling" as I revise it from an academic thesis into a manuscript ready for publication in book form.   Some of the topics that will be addressed include:  the identification of a rich body of Bahá’í stories, available for oral storytelling and an examination of the role of Bahá’í storytellers as modeled by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the Bahá’í Exemplar.  Additionally there is a section that assesses the potential value of oral storytelling to a religion, such as the Bahá’í Faith, which strongly values and advocates literacy.