Meet the Speaker


Vigen Guroian is Professor of Religious Studies in Orthodox Christianity at the University of Virginia. He’s the author of nine books and has contributed over 200 articles to journals, magazines, books, and newspaper on subjects from liturgy to bioethics. He’s been featured on programs as diverse as NPR’s Talk of the Nation and Chuck Colson’s Break Point.

He’s also an avid gardener. “I think that gardening is nearer to godliness than theology,” he writes in Inheriting Paradise. “One of the principle things gardening teaches is that you cannot make your garden grow. Other forces are at work.” Of course, “you have to weed. You have to cultivate. This is painful. You get blisters. You bleed, you sweat.”

More important—at least to us—is his fondness for good stories.

In Mystery and Manners, Flannery O’Connor wrote, “a story is a way to say something that cannot be said any other way… You tell a story because a statement would be inadequate.” Years later in After Virtue, Alasdair Macintyre writes:

“It is through hearing stories about wicked stepmothers, lost children, good but misguided kings, wolves that suckle twin boys, youngest sons who receive no inheritance but must make their own way in the world and eldest sons who waste their inheritance…, that children learn or mislearn what a child and what a parent is, what the cast of characters may be in the drama into which they have been born and what the ways of the world are. Deprive children of stories and you leave them unscripted, anxious stutterers in their actions as in their words.”

In Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classical Stories Awaken a Child’s Moral Imagination, Professor Guroian echoes the same sentiments and one ups them. Good stories not only capture truths that can’t be told any other way, they shape our imagination and character.

“Fairy tales and fantasy stories transport the reader into other worlds that are fresh with wonder, surprise, and danger. They challenge the reader to make sense out of those other worlds, to navigate his way through them, and to imagine himself in the place of the heroes and heroines who populate those worlds. The safety and assurance of these imaginative adventures is that risks can be taken without having to endure all of the consequences of failure; the joy is in discovering how these risky adventures might eventuate in satisfactory and happy outcomes. Yet the concept of self is also transformed. The images and metaphors in these stories stay with the reader even after he has returned to the "real" world.”

Sound interesting? You can find more of Dr. Guroian’s musings on stories here.

Even better: be sure to join us Friday evening, February 4th, 6:00 PM at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for All Saints’ 8th Annual Growth in Grace Conference. It promises to be a memorable evening.