About this project.
As a third grader, Friday afternoon was my favorite time of the week. In the hour following lunch, when everyone was ready, our teacher Mrs. McCullough would turn down the lights and read. I can still remember the quiet of the room, the smell of my desktop, and the lovely way that she read to us. It was then that I met Ramona the Pest; Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Harriet the Spy. Each of these characters became friends that I would visit again and again. Their stories were an essential part of my childhood and with each passing year my love of story has grown.
Whether one is a voracious reader, a lover of film or someone who lives apart from these technologies, stories are an important part of life. Author Madeleine L’Engle wrote that, “story makes us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.” They are “recognizable patterns, and in those patterns we find meaning. We use stories to make sense of our world and to share that understanding with others. They are the signal within the noise.”
Firmly believing that story is important to our personal development, I conducted a survey in 2016 to learn about the relationship between narrative fiction and the development of faith in adolescents. The inquiry included the following questions:
There was a broad range in the ages of the respondents from 25 to 80. All of them identified as English-speaking Christians, with the majority having a vocation within the church. The key question to the study asked “did any of these books impact your beliefs in God?” Nearly 75% of those surveyed answered in the affirmative. Additionally, there was a significant amount of commonality in the books that were identified.
This project Stories of Grace focuses on a second survey with a broader audience and includes film as well novels. The questions also center specifically on the participants' understanding of grace, that is, the undeserved, unending love of God. As adolescents how did their acquisition of fiction narrative impact their belief in a gracious god? Please note that while the idea of grace is central to my faith as a Christian, it is by no means found only within Christian religious experience.
Thank you for your interest in this project. If you wish to participate in this study or delve more deeply into the topic, please continue with thinking about stories.
The grace of God be with you!