Mike Cosper, The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014. 240 pp. $15.99
Everyone loves a good story. There is nothing better then listening to a great story unfold or curling up on the couch with a loved one and watching the power of a fantastic story come together on tv or in the a movie. People spend hundreds of hours a year watching their favorite tv programs or going to the movies. We can easily be wrapped up in a compelling story. But have you ever stopped to consider if the stories we watch and hear have a deeper meaning or significance?
In his new book The Stories We Tell, Mike Cosper (Pastor of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville) looks at this very question and considers how the stories that we watch through tv and movies have a deeper story and larger Truth behind each and every one of them. The stories we gravitate towards say a lot about us, and often we find ourselves pulled towards the ‘hero’ saves the day type stories. Stories help to shape our emotions and shape who we are, but there is something we are longing for in each of the stories we observe. Cosper says, “If the Bible is true, then it has a way of encompassing and overarching every story ever told. Our personal stories, our fiction, our literature, our television shows, and our movies are all accounted for in a sovereign God’s design for the world” (Kindle Loc 345-352). If God is sovereign, which He is, then every story that we take in has a purpose in this world. Every story that we see on tv and in movies displays the brokenness of a fallen world and the redemption we are seeking after found in Christ alone.
A storytelling God created us in His image and therefore we are storytelling people. Oftentimes though, the stories that we tell display the hurt that we carry or show our desire to know God more, even if we don’t know Him. “We tell stories because we’re broken creatures hungering for redemption, and our storytelling is a glimmer of hope, a spark of eternity still simmering in our hearts (Eccles. 315) (Loc 353). Through each and every story, we often can see the brokenness of sin in this world or we can see the redemption that we all strive to know.
Cosper walks through Scripture and walks through the gospel to show that the stories we tell and we take in follow a fall and redemption pattern most of the time. Cosper looks at some of the more popular television shows in recent history showing the story of the show and revealing the deeper understanding within them. Cosper considers shows like The Wire, Mad Men, How I Met Your Mother, 30 Rock and Dexter just to name a few. Each of these shows walks along the same patterns. They all strive for something more and through brokenness seeking for redemption. Every story has a deeper implication, and shows the brokenness of our sin or the redemption that we seek after that can only be found in Christ.
Whether through what we watch on television or movies, or even through social media and reality tv stardom, we are seeking after Christ. We want to be known. In a fallen and broken world, Cosper says, “Christians and non-Christians alike feel the dull ache of faded glory. So we fill our days with efforts at transcending that ache” (Loc 2891). We want to know Jesus, even if we don’t know Him or attest that He doesn’t exist. We are all made by a storytelling God to desire to know Him. This is why we are storytelling people. This is why our stories tend to follow the same patterns and themes of brokenness and redemption. We are made in His image to reflect His glory. In The Stories We Tell, Pastor Mike Cosper does a great job of showing this over and over again in the stories that we taken in from television.
This is a helpful book to any person that wants to understand the value of television and the importance of understanding the deeper meaning of each story. This book is also of value for any Christian that wants to be able to discuss the deeper and more significant implications of the stories that we watch and that we tell. Consider reading The Stories We Tell as it will give you a greater understanding of the stories that are around us and a better understanding of how to find the Truth through these stories.