The art we consume says something about us, the lives we live, the ideas that drive us, and the beliefs that make up the fabric of our lives. We love stories that resonate with human experience and our deep longings.
The Christian faith also describes human experience by explaining that we are sinful people living in a fallen world with a hunger for a something greater and redemption after our lives here are done.
Mike Cosper’s new book called The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth shows the intersection between our love for stories and Christianity’s answer to our hunger for purpose and redemption satisfied in Scripture’s grand story of God reconciling us to Himself through Jesus Christ.
The Stories We Tell begins with a short disclaimer describing that this book isn’t meant to be a Christian discernment manual for entertainment, but rather a book that explores how our stories connect with various aspects of the gospel and reveal humanity’s deep need for Christ. Cosper describes the driving force behind the book:
“I believe that the motivation for our stories is deeply connected with the gospel, and by thinking about that connection, we can more deeply appreciate both.”
The structure of The Stories We Tell features ten chapters that begin by exploring foundational elements of stories, moving on to how Christians can engage with the visual storytelling world of TV and movies, and then continues following the four main parts to Scripture’s grand story: creation (which explores stories dealing with creation, paradise, and the search for love), fall (looking at human brokenness, suffering, frustration, fear, and evil), redemption (a chapter each on redemptive/sacrificial violence and also traditional heroes), and glorification (about how we long to be something better).
In each of those chapters, Cosper shares stories from a wide array of well-known and not-so-well-known TV shows and movies and interprets how they really reveal our heart’s longing for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here are some shows and movies mentioned: The Wire, Dexter, How I Met Your Mother, Mad Men, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and movies like Tarantino films, The Hobbit, The Big Lebowski, The Mission, Superman, among others.
This book was a breath of fresh air to me. When God began getting a grip on me early in my college days, I pushed away from watching a lot of TV and movies because I felt they were an idol of mine. This soon turned to legalism and a self-righteous attitude that would look down on people for their entertainment habits, but then conviction from the gospel sunk in and I eventually became too busy to watch many TV or movies anyway. This book reminded me of the artistic and human value that TV and movies can have if consumed with the right intentions (while still practicing godly discernment) and watchful eye. This book encouraged me to expand what I typically watch to look for different glimpses of the gospel in each story.
Recommendation: The Stories We Tell is a book for every Christian because it engages with the culture-shaping entertainment we consume, showing us threads of the gospel interweaved into each story. Even for the non-movie buff like myself, it still proved immensely valuable and lived up to Cosper’s goal of deepening my appreciation for both the gospel and the stories we tell.
- This is a must-read for Christian movie geeks for the reasons mentioned above.
- This book will prove especially helpful for pastors to engage the entertainment culture and find natural paths to gospel conversations.
- I could also see this book being an outside-the-box training tool for evangelism because it ties what is all around us to the gospel.
The Stories We Tell will deepen your love for the gospel by showing through popular media how we all long for and desire what only Christ can give.
Title: The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth
Author: Mike Cosper
Rating: 5 Stars
[…] Mike Cosper. The Stories We Tell. Reviewed by Kevin Halloran. […]