Storytelling has always been a part of religious and spiritual life. Some religious traditions or institutions have, in response to the power of storytelling, sought to erect firm barriers between which stories are sacred and which are not. Meanwhile, as the prominence of religious sources of authority wanes in many parts of public life, some people have begun to invest mythical,spiritual, and even religious significance in fictional texts that may not have been intended or expected to play such a role. And yet other texts may exist in a liminal space where we are unsure whether we should approach them as conveying spiritual messages or merely as entertainment, moral instruction, or provocation. What are the many ways that fiction can play a role in our spiritual lives? What are the benefits---and the costs---of broadening the universe of stories that we make part of our sacred journeys?
Participants are encouraged (but not required) to come to the First Hour with an example of a piece of fiction, in any medium or context, that has played a role in their spiritual, moral, and/or philosophical lives.