The Stories We Tell (Cultural Renewal) eBook
How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth
The average American watches 5 hours of TV every day.
Collectively, we spend roughly $30 billion on movies each year.
Simply put, we’re entertainment junkies. But can we learn something from our insatiable addiction to stories? Mike Cosper thinks so.
From horror flicks to rom-coms, the tales we tell and the myths we weave inevitably echo the narrative underlying all of history: the story of humanity’s tragic sin and God’s triumphant salvation. This entertaining book connects the dots between the stories we tell and the one great Story—helping us better understand the longings of the human heart and thoughtfully engage with the movies and TV shows that capture our imaginations.
Mike Cosper is one of the founding pastors of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where he serves as the pastor of worship and arts. He is the founder of Sojourn Music and contributes regularly to the Gospel Coalition blog, where he writes about worship and culture. He is the author of Rhythms of Grace and coauthor of Faithmapping.
“Mike helps us make sense of what is true and good in the stories our culture consumes, and he does it without leading us toward syncretism. With the amount of TV and movies our culture devours, this book is a must read.”
—Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor, The Village Church, Dallas, Texas; President, Acts 29 Church Planting Network
“Like Paul at the Areopagus, Mike Cosper walks through the cultural artifacts of our entertainment industry and effectively says, ‘I can tell by your sitcoms and dramas and even your romantic comedies that you are a storytelling people who long for more. Let me introduce you to the Storyteller you don’t even realize you long to know.’ The result is a book that will change how you watch TV and movies. But more importantly, this might change the conversations you have with your neighbors.”
—James K. A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy, Calvin College; author, Imagining the Kingdom and How (Not) to Be Secular
“Cultural engagement is a delicate but necessary balance for all who claim Christ. Mike Cosper insightfully examines narratives in pop culture to reveal the larger story of God at work in the human heart. This book is a must read for pastors and all those who seek to engage the culture with the powerful story of the gospel.”
—Ed Stetzer, President, LifeWay Research; author, Subversive Kingdom
“Drawing upon a dazzling breadth of stories told through film, television, and literature, Mike Cosper examines—critically and charitably, wisely and generously—the culture-shaping power of stories and how all reflect in some way the grand story of creation, fall, and redemption. Skillfully and compellingly written, The Stories We Tell is essential reading for anyone consuming, engaging, or shaping the culture.”
—Karen Swallow Prior, author, Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me and Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist
“There is no one I would rather read on issues of popular culture than Mike Cosper. This book is not another ‘here’s how you find the gospel in Superman’ project. Cosper analyzes popular culture with depth and with wisdom, seeing both the common grace of conscience all around us and the depths of human sin. As Cosper interacts with popular culture, he models for us how to listen to the voices around us in order that we might engage them with the mission of Christ. This book is about more than the media he analyzes. It is also a training ground for how to pay attention to our neighbors.”
—Russell D. Moore, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; author, Tempted and Tried
“The stories we tell rattle around in our minds, capture our imaginations, and give shape to our living as they echo the themes of God’s grand redemptive story—creation, fall, and redemption. These are not only the themes of film, literature, and television, but are also the inescapable passages of every person’s life. Cosper gives us new eyes to see and new ears to hear the stories we tell and in so doing invites us to celebrate our inclusion in the one story with a happy ending that actually never ever ends. I love this book and I think you will too.”
—Paul David Tripp, President, Paul Tripp Ministries; author, What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage
“Mike has showed us the way of participating in culture and discerning where God is in it. It is easy to simply reject cultural creations in the name of purity. Or to receive them uncritically. The Stories We Tell will inspire a new generation of missionaries who seek to live in the world but not of it.”
—Darrin Patrick, Lead Pastor, The Journey, St. Louis, Missouri; Vice President, Acts 29; Chaplain to the St. Louis Cardinals; author, The Dude’s Guide to Manhood
“Evangelicals are notorious for consuming mass quantities of pop culture behind closed doors and sanctimoniously railing against the culture in public. It’s time to stop the hypocrisy and get serious about thinking theologically about the TV shows and films that stir our imaginations. In The Stories We Tell, Mike Cosper plays the role of the Interpreter in The Pilgrim’s Progress by clarifying our favorite episodes and movies in light of both law and gospel, and urges us, ‘Stay until I have showed thee a little more!’”
—Gregory Alan Thornbury, President, The King’s College; author, Recovering Classic Evangelicalism
“Cosper presents a thoughtful, gospel-centered analysis of culture that will resonate with the current generation. Whether you love TV and movies or hate them, they are indeed the central sounds and images of our culture, and they call for discerning theological critique. And this book delivers. Mike Cosper tells us the story about the stories we tell, and does so wisely and well.”
—Grant Horner, Associate Professor of Renaissance and Reformation, The Master’s College; author, Meaning at the Movies