“The Hindu and the Cowboy… And Other Kansas City Stories” (2012)

“The Hindu and the Cowboy… and Other Kansas City Stories” is the title of a play based on interviews with Kansas Citizens of many diverse faith traditions. It is the resulting product of the MosaicMoses was the great Biblical prophet who is credited with leading the people of Israel out of Egyptian bondage and teaching them the divine laws at Sinai. The story of Moses is told in the book of Exodus in the Bible and is also told in the Qur’an, wher... Life Stories Project, a process undertaken in 2002 by a group of volunteers who were inspired by both the need for first-hand interfaith understanding and by belief in the power of story in dramatic form. The idea was sparked by the Gifts of Pluralism Conference hosted by CRES (a not-for-profit organization which facilitated the Kansas City Interfaith Council), falling by chance on the heels of September 11, 2001. The play first premiered in 2004 and since then has been staged over 25 times.


The Mosaic Life Stories project provided a process for bringing the rich life experiences of diverse Kansas City individuals to wider awareness through drama. Scriptwriter Donna Ziegenhorn designed the project and wrote the play based on her experience in story-based performance. Seven individuals were trained to interview, and the team collected and transcribed approximately 80 stories through personal interviews and story-telling circlesIn some Pagan traditions, a “circle” refers to the people who gather for a ritual. When standing in a circle, all the participants are able to see each other, with no one member elevated over any other. This practice is often felt to encourage egalita.... The transcribed stories fill three two-inch ring binders.


The project has encouraged people to come forward and tell the stories they have lived, the stories that have affected them in a visceral way. All generations, including youth, and all major religious faiths have been involved in the storytelling. Specifically, individuals have been interviewed from the following faith traditions: Native AmericanEach of the many Native American nations has its own distinctive life-ways, although there are some widely-shared characteristics. most Native life-ways are primarily transmitted through oral traditions; they are oriented toward living in relation to a sp..., Baha’i, Christian (ProtestantProtestant is a term used for the range of reform movements that broke with the Roman Catholic Church during the period called the Reformation. There are many branches of Protestantism, including the Lutherans, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists... and Catholic), Hindu, IslamIslam in Arabic literally means “submitting” or “submission.” One who submits or surrenders his or her will to God is called a Muslim. While the whole of God’s creation is described as being inherently Muslim, human beings must choose whether to..., JudaismJudaism is the worldview, the way of life, and the religious practice of the Jewish people, living in covenant with God and in response to Torah, the laws and ethics which guide the pattern of Jewish life. Jews today interpret their three thousand year ol..., PaganThe term “pagan” (from the Latin paganus) originally meant “peasant” or “country dweller.” For many Pagans, the term suggests a life lived close to the land. Today, nature spirituality is an important thread in contemporary Paganism. Some Paga..., SikhSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob... DharmaDharma means religion, religious duty, religious teaching. The word dharma comes from a Sanskrit root meaning “to uphold, support, bear,” thus dharma is that order of things which informs the whole world, from the laws of nature to the inner workings ..., SufiSufism is often called “the heart of Islam,” as its emphasis on the inner life enlivens and supplements the outward practices of ritual and legal obligation. It is not a sect of Islam, but rather a stream of interpretation stressing the interior path,..., Unitariana belief in one God that rejects the three persons of the Trinity that has much in common with the belief in the early Christian church about the superiority of God over Jesus and the Anti-Trinitarian writing that emerged during the Protestant Reformation... Universalist, ZoroastrianOriginating with the teachings of the Prophet Zarathushtra in the second millennium BCE, the ancient faith of Zoroastrianism is referred to as “the Good Religion” in the sacred texts. Zoroastrians are encouraged to live out their faith through the pra..., Jain and non-affiliated.


The stories—which convey tragedy, healing, humor and reconciliation—are personal and unique. Together they present a rich and varied face of Kansas City. The stories show that people who join the community add their personal histories to those whose families have lived in Kansas City for generations. The project is a tribute to the changing identity of the metropolitanA Metropolitan is the title given to a bishop, used especially in the Orthodox family of churches today. area.


“The Hindu and the Cowboy” was scripted from selected stories that are performed by local actors. The names of the original storytellers have been changed in the script.


Read a promising practice of “The Hindu and the Cowboy” featured in the Pluralism Project’s pilot initiative, “America’s Interfaith Infrastructure: An Emerging Landscape.”


Read articles on “The Hindu and the Cowboy” in our Religious Diversity News archive.


Initial Project Sponsors:

CRES, Vern Barnet, President

Kansas City Harmony, Diane Hershberger, Executive Director

National Conference for Community and Justice, Juan Rangel, Executive Director