The Power (and Potential Danger of) Story

From Soul Matters: Our lives are not just made up of stories; they are also made by stories. . Indeed, who of us hasn’t felt controlled by a story? Stuck in a story? Hopeless about the way our story will end up? As an adult you might have as part of your identity the story that was told about you innocently or maliciously in your family as you were growing up.  We’re you “the smart one”? The “the pretty one”, “the clumsy one”? Can you tell a story now about when you first learned a different aspect of yourself? How did you feel when you could experience more than one story about yourself?


In her landmark TED talk, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tells of her experiences growing up in Nigeria  and the danger of a single story. Stereotypes, she points out, are created by having a single story about a group of people. Not that the story you know is untrue, but because it’s not the whole story. Having a single story us of the ability to see people as our equals. You can watch the talk on You Tube at


What stories are your children hearing and reading that let them know there is more than one story on culture, race and ethnicity? You may have seen  links to children stories about children of different races.  If you haven’t already used one, let the theme of the month inspire you to check out . I recommend “Children’s Books That Tackle Race and Ethnicity” from the New York Times.

You’ll be among your fellow Albany UU families exploring the theme. In Family Chapel Nov 5, the children in grades pre-K through 5th grade will a story we can feel proud of –  the origin of our symbol or our faith, the flaming chalice. During our UU’s in Action session on Nov 27th the children will explore another story  about a UU minister of color – Rev. Ethelred Brown, a Jamaican of African descent who struggled to be given the chance to lead a UU congregation in the use.  Our faith has deep historical roots, and not all of them are a source of pride for us. If we want to foster Unitarian Universalism identity in our children and youth, we need to give them a whole story, and not a stereotype of UU heroes.


I’ll be sharing resources with you for you to use at home to explore with children whether or not you’re able to attend either or both of these Sundays.


in joyful service,



About Leah

Leah and her husband, Kevin Purcell, live in Albany. They have two grown daughters that were raised at Albany UU. Leah has served as DRE at Albany UU since 2007; before that she worked in both private and public schools. She served as Chair of the Seaway Chapter of the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) and now serves on the LREDA Board.

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