The Healing Power of Stories: Creating Yourself Through the Stories in Your Life

Overview

Storytelling is as ancient as human civilization itself. But the tidal wave of interest in finding family roots, in tales, legends, and myths from around the world, and in understanding the meaning of life through stories is at its peak. Tapping into this fountainhead of popular interest, The Healing Power of Stories offers parched souls a cool, refreshing drink from the wellspring of their own lives. Marked with scars from their past, readers can find healing, as well as the key to true happiness and ...
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Overview

Storytelling is as ancient as human civilization itself. But the tidal wave of interest in finding family roots, in tales, legends, and myths from around the world, and in understanding the meaning of life through stories is at its peak. Tapping into this fountainhead of popular interest, The Healing Power of Stories offers parched souls a cool, refreshing drink from the wellspring of their own lives. Marked with scars from their past, readers can find healing, as well as the key to true happiness and fulfillment, when they draw upon stories from their own life experience. Using personal vignettes and such popular classics as Huckleberry Finn, the author masterfully interweaves narrative psychology, literature, religion, ethics, and philosophy into a tapestry of hope and personal fulfillment.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The stories we tell, Taylor (Letters to My Children) contends, can reshape our characters and add meaning to our lives by reminding us that actions have consequences. Fed up with the relativism that he believes has overtaken the academy and popular culture, Taylor exhorts readers to see that all stories are not equal. Better stories, he says, "should be truthful, freeing, gracious, and hopeful." Using snippets of many unarguably fine stories, especially the liberating tale of Huck and Jim, Taylor demonstrates how narratives can touch us as no mere argument can, because they reach all of us-body, heart and mind. Yet Taylor frequently lapses into moralizing argument, proposing, for example, that our "nave and confused" society has debased itself by replacing a value-laden concept of character with psychology's devalued concept of personality. All this polemic raises the question of why Taylor doesn't seem to practice what he preaches. He finally admits that, raised "among the fundamentalists," he has "an instinctive fondness for the categories of good and evil, right and wrong, that verges at times on the moralistic." Perhaps that is why he too often tells us that this and that are so, instead of showing us through the stories that he praises and that we wish for. (Apr.)
Patricia Monaghan
Call it "narratology", and we flee, squealing in fear. But call it simply "story", and we pull our chairs up to listen. This warm, approachable book examines how our personal narratives color our interpretation of the world and our place within it. Taylor has a spiritual, even religious intent: "To name and embrace your stories is to accept your God-given freedom." Stories, he argues, teach us how to live responsibly and how to understand others. They move us from "chronos", clock time, to "kairos", "time redeemed." Once he has established the importance of narrative, Taylor moves to the real meat of his book: how to heal stories that are broken, plots that are wounded and wounding. What follows might have been just another serving of self-help advice, but instead, Taylor soars, challenging us to examine our stories not only in terms of their personal utility but for evidence of healthy or diseased community relations.
Kirkus Reviews
Although the title implies a self-help book, this is no pop psychology how-to but an old-fashioned moral essay that speaks of character and values.

Taylor (English/Bethel College; Letters to My Children, not reviewed) believes that stories make it possible for us to be human; they "tell us who we are, why we are here, and what we are doing." We learn them as family stories and as school and religious lessons; strangers surround us with their stories on television, in movies, and in books and magazines; and we tell our own stories about ourselves. They preserve our memories, explain our present, and help us imagine our future. With tales such as Huckleberry Finn, Taylor illustrates how exposure to characters in stories helps to mold one's own character, and using Elie Wiesel's memoir Night, he demonstrates how stories shape one's view of the world. They teach us that character is more important than personality, and they challenge us to be characters engaged in life, not simply passive spectators. The values of every human society are captured in its stories, says Taylor, and to be civilized is to internalize those values; thus we are defined by our stories and by the stories we choose to tell our children. The healing power of stories, he says, comes from their power to reconnect us with others, for a story implies a community of at least two, a teller and a listener, each with responsibilities to the other. An appendix includes questions about readers' own stories; in answering the questions, says Taylor, readers will find better understanding not only of the stories but of themselves.

Makes a trip to the library seem more rewarding than a session with one's therapist.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385480505
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/1/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.83 (w) x 8.57 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction 1
1 The Sound of Story 5
2 What Do You Know (When You Know a Story)? 23
3 Characters Shaping Character: Beyond Personality 41
4 Finding a Plot in Our Lives: The Search for Meaning and a Happy Ending 57
5 Seeing the World Through Stories: Stories and the Shaping of a Worldview 79
6 Healing Broken Stories 113
7 All Stories Are Not Created Equal: Stories, Relativism, and Responsibility 139
Epilogue 155
Appendix: Identifying Your Defining Stories 159
Notes 167
Works Cited 169
Index 175
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