The Importance of Stories for the Formation of Faith

by Lily Bessette


On September 22 in the Murray Function Room of the Yawkey Center, Professor Brian Braman introduced the theme for the Fall 2015 edition of the Church in the 21st Century Center’s publication, Resources. The title of this edition is “Our Faith Our Stories” and it reflects upon “the power of stories to both nurture and share our faith.”

Resources is a publication by the Church in the 21st Century Center that gives individuals the tools to strengthen their faith. Working as a catalyst, the publication gives precise, meaningful works to invigorate the faith of its readers. This edition is a collection of essays that share stories about faith and is one of the many instruments through which Boston College aids in the development of faith.


Brian Braman worked as the guest editor for this edition of Resources. Braman is a professor in Boston College’s Philosophy Department, director of the Perspectives Program, and a faculty member in the College of Advancing Studies.


He explained that the theme of this edition was centered on how “life is shaped by all different narratives” and that the goal was to show people how “to think of God’s self story in a broader sense,” emphasizing that we find God in all things.


For example, he argued that “E=mc2 is a story about the universe that God gives us” and that it was part of God’s self story. He referred to this famous equation as “the speed limit of the universe.” Again, Braman demonstrated that many matters in life are actually stories that go back to God’s self story. He talked about how the stained glass windows in churches act as stories to teach about faith. He revealed how films shape faith and even films that people do not expect to relate to faith actually tell a story about faith.


Braman summarized a portion of Confessions, by St. Augustine, by explaining how Augustine’s full conversion to the Catholic family began. Augustine was sitting distraught under a tree when he heard a voice say, “Tolle Lege,” meaning “Take and Read.” Augustine read the Letters of St. Paul, consequently resolving to become a Christian. This story demonstrated the impact that stories can have on our faith.


Brian Braman also pointed out an account from The Samurai, by Shusaku Endo. The samurai encounters Christians on his mission to Rome. His experience with them leads him to conclude that the story behind their religion is “palpably absurd.” After giving this report of The Samurai, Braman asked the audience, “Why do we commit ourselves to a ‘palpably absurd’” story?”


He points out that the word “myth” comes from the Greek word “mythos,” which means stories or narratives. Our interpretation of the word myth today comes with our modern connotations, but myths are actually just stories. Braman reveals that our “commitment to liberal arts is a commitment to story.”


Braman ended his lecture with three instructions, “Tell stories, read stories, and Tolle Lege – Take and Read.”

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