How are storytelling and religion related?
PBS is airing a series next week in which the first men,John Wycliffe, William Tyndale and Thomas Cranmer, to translate the Bible from its original Latin into English are portrayed as heroes. The story line goes further to offer them up as the founders of modern literacy as we know it today.
The relationship between storytelling and religion is complex. While religion has always been conveyed through fables and allegories, the construction of these stories has supported the maintenance of traditional power structures.
As the Bible was translated into the common tongue, and its stories and lessons became comprehensible to the common man, a certain degree of power was lost by the church. To a great extent the teller of the tale controls the message of the medium. To this extent therefore, the relationship between religion and storytelling is interdependent.
Storytelling and religion are very deeply related, both in this novel and in general.
In general, all religions have sacred stories at their hearts. We call these myths; they range from the creation stories of how the world came to be to stories of the faiths' founders.
In Life of Pi, the relationship is more direct. Pi experiences such a rare and transformative time (being cast away with a tiger) that it ruptures his previous religious answers about the nature of the world. To replace them, he must weave a new story that makes emotional and spiritual sense of this experience.