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Faith and Identity

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What makes us who we are? Religion often plays a central role in how we understand ourselves. By informing personal values, faith can be a defining part of individual identity. Many people also find meaning in religious congregations, where those who often have similar worldviews and interests gather together for spiritual development. But religious teachings can also be in tension with certain aspects of personal identity, such as gender and sexuality. When faith and identity clash, some people question or even leave their religion. The interaction between faith and identity can have a transformative effect on us as individuals while we sort who we are in the world. In this collection of conversations, people share how faith has shaped their identity.

The interviews below were recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity‚Äôs stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. 

Titus Adenote and Isiaka Ambali

November 2, 2019

More stories about: Christianity Immigration

Titus Adenote and Isiaka Ambali are Nigerian immigrants to the United States, where they have found a sense of personal belonging and spiritual fulfilment in the Celestial Church. In this conversation, the friends reflect on how divine intervention has shaped their journeys in pursuit of the American dream. 

This story was produced by David Dault at Sandburg Media, LLC.

Olakunle Babalola and Oluwadamilare Alade

November 2, 2019

More stories about: Christianity Immigration

Olakunle Babalola and Oluwadamilare Alade both emigrated from Nigeria to the United States and have found a spiritual home in the Celestial Church of Christ, a global evangelical denomination. In this conversation, the friends reflect on their journey to the Celestial Church and consider the power of praying to God in the Yoruba language.

This story was produced by David Dault at Sandburg Media, LLC.

Teresa Irwin and Meg Spesia

November 1, 2019

More stories about: Catholicism Social Justice

Teresa Irwin and Meg Spesia are both members of the Catholic Worker Movement, a network of faith-inspired communities dedicated to social justice that was founded by Dorothy Day in the 1930s. In this conversation, the friends reflect on how personal experiences including religious pilgrimage and missionary work have shaped their faith in the unseen. 

This story was produced by David Dault at Sandburg Media, LLC.

Demetrius Brooks and Tanequa Tunstall

June 1, 2019

More stories about: Buddhism

Demetrius Brooks and Tanequa Tunstall are queer people of color who have drawn on their Buddhist faith to grapple with personal challenges as they each make a life in the American South. In this conversation, the friends reflect on the transformative power of Buddhist thought and practice in their daily lives.

This story was produced by Alero Oyinlola.

Rev. Paul Baxley and Rabbi Eric Linder

October 17, 2018

More stories about: Christianity Judaism

Rev. Paul Baxley, a Baptist pastor, and Rabbi Eric Linder were brought together by a shared commitment to interfaith work in Athens, Georgia, where they started an interreligious partnership in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. In this conversation, the friends and colleagues reflect on the challenges and possibilities of interfaith dialogue in a polarized society.

This story was produced by David Dault at Sandburg Media, LLC.

Itsa Eagle Bear Shash and Flint

September 15, 2018

More stories about: Indigenous

Itsa Eagle Bear Shash and his nephew Flint are members of the Apache community, where they find a sense of spiritual belonging while performing Native American rituals. In this conversation, the relatives reflect on how Native American spirituality has shaped their approaches to life and consider the close connection between Native American religion and the land.

This story was produced by David Dault at Sandburg Media, LLC.

Yvonne Forst and Alison Jo Frost

September 14, 2018

More stories about: Healing & Recovery

Yvonne Frost and her late husband Gavin Frost founded the School and Church of Wicca, a monotheistic spiritual path centered on an abstract and unknowable deity, in 1968. In this conversation, Yvonne joins her daughter Alison Jo Frost to discuss the history and impact of Wicca thought and practice in the United States.

This story was produced by David Dault at Sandburg Media, LLC.

Donna Peera and Haseena Peera

August 7, 2018

More stories about: Healing & Recovery

Donna Peera was raised Catholic, but in adulthood she has found her spiritual home in Shamanism, a collection of practices through which she transcends into different realms to access information from nature. In this conversation, Peera joins her daughter, Haseena, to discuss how Shamanism has shaped her personal and family life as a way of healing. 

This story was produced by Alero Oyinlola.

Kevin Locke and Madison Mullen

June 29, 2018

More stories about: Indigenous

Kevin Locke, an Indigenous folk artist from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, learned to hoop dance from his mentor Arlo Good Bear, drawing on lessons passed down for generations. In this conversation, Locke joins StoryCorps facilitator Madison Mullen to discuss the meaning behind the hoop dance as a way for him to connect with the hopes and visions of his ancestors. 

This story was produced by Alero Oyinlola.

KeNosha Whitehead and Chandra Crane

October 13, 2017

More stories about: Race Gender

KeNosha Whitehead and Chandra Crane are distinctly different from the white and male evangelical seminarians of previous eras, due to their respective backgrounds as albino and mixed-race women. In this conversation, the friends discuss how overlapping questions of family, gender, and racial identity shape their experiences as the next generation of Protestant clergy in the South.

This story was produced by David Dault at Sandburg Media, LLC.

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