The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth  -     Edited By: Timothy J. Keller, Collin Hansen
    By: Mike Cosper
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The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth

Crossway / 2014 / Paperback

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Product Description

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.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 224
Vendor: Crossway
Publication Date: 2014
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.25 (inches)
ISBN: 1433537087
ISBN-13: 9781433537080

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Publisher's Description

Americans love movies and watch a lot of TV. Cosper helps readers effectively engage with and evaluate what they watch, highlighting how the stories we tell reveal humanity’s universal longing for redemption. Part of the Cultural Renewal series.

Author Bio

Mike Cosper is the director of the Harbor Institute for Faith and Culture, where he works to create resources for Christians living in a post-Christian world. Prior to that, he was a founding pastor at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where he served for sixteen years as the pastor of worship and arts.

TIMOTHY KELLER is founder and pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York. He is the best-selling author of The Prodigal God and The Reason for God

Collin Hansen (MDiv, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) serves as the editorial director for the Gospel Coalition. He previously worked as an associate editor for Christianity Today magazine and coedits the Cultural Renewal series with Tim Keller. He and his wife belong to Redeemer Community Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and he serves on the advisory board of Beeson Divinity School. You can follow him on Twitter at @collinhansen.

TIMOTHY KELLER is founder and pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York. He is the best-selling author of The Prodigal God and The Reason for God

Product Reviews

4.5 Stars Out Of 5
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4.5 out Of 5
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4.5 out Of 5
(4.5 out of 5)
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4.5 out Of 5
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  1. California
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: Female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Great thoughts but too many movie details
    September 10, 2015
    Library staff
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    The Stories We Tell was a tough book for me to get a handle on. After going back and re-

    reading Kellers introduction, I felt as though I must be missing something because the subject appeared to get off track.

    The book was for the most part well written. Cosper had an aptitude for writing in a way that was easy to follow, held the readers interest, and even anticipated the readers thoughts. There were several times when an objection or question I had was answered almost immediately in the sentence(s) that followed. He had some rather insightful and compelling comments, especially in the first two chapters. It was enlightening to discover how human beings, though denying Gods existence or influence, yearn to receive what He created us for in the Garden of Eden. For a long time Ive thought that some secular songs which tell of undying, unconditional love could undoubtedly be (and in fact only rightly be) sung to or about the Lord. We see that in stories as well.

    While I felt strongly positive about the opening of the book up until chapter 3, that enthusiasm weakened as the author meandered into sometimes overly lengthy descriptions of movies he had enjoyed watching. It was just like reading a movie review . . . how the actors were at the top of their game, how elegant and understated the soundtrack was, etc.

    Later on in chapter 8, the retelling of the Dexter saga was agonizing, even though the author had warned that the reader wouldnt necessarily agree with his selection of movies. Cosper stated that, This is a book about stories and how they reveal the hearts longing for the gospel. So I was confused on how a lengthy description of Dexters plot helped the reader to that end. And couldnt we find that longing in just about any film? He mentioned a few TV shows or movies Ive seen, like the Twilight Zone, but I didnt find any special value in the his critique any more than any other entertainment review. I found myself skimming over a lot of the descriptions to get to some practical meat. Also, when discussing the movies/TV shows in later chapters, I think the advice in chapter 2 about individual believers determining with Spirit-guided discernment what they should watch needed to be repeated.

    The Channel Surfing sidebars didnt help either because they were interruptions to the train of thought. Perhaps they would have been more effective tacked to the end of a chapter for further reflection after the main point was finished.

    I dont want to sound as though the book was a lost cause, because Cosper had many significant things to say. I just felt he got bogged down reliving in too great a detail the story lines of a movie. I wanted to read more of an analysis of the stories, and perhaps how to use those insights as a witness of God to those who watch them as well as a reminder to us.

    One final comment concerning the authors suggestions to Christian filmmakers in the Epilogue. . . . While I agree Christian filmmakers can (and certainly some already do) seek to use the artistry God entrusted to them to create and influence films from within the secular market, the present Christian genre is every bit as beneficial to the cause of Christ. Christian movies are preachy at times and sometimes poorly acted or scripted (just as many secular films are), but there is another key value to them. Movies like Fireproof, Amazing Love, Faith Like Potatoes, Grace Unplugged, Powerplay, Soul Surfer, October Baby, River Within, To Save a Life, and many more are often an encouragement to believers to live a life in obedience to God, or to hold onto their faith amidst the struggles they face. Its OK that they would never win an Oscar. Id wished Cosper could have offered at least a paragraph in his admonition to Christian filmmakers applauding what they have accomplished, especially in their motivation of believers.

    Despite my criticisms, I think overall Cosper had sound points to be considered. My thanks to Crossway for the opportunity to read and review the text prior to publication.
  2. Upstate NY
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A Believer's Look At Today's Media
    August 26, 2014
    Floyd Johnson
    Upstate NY
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    The Stories We Tell accomplished three thing for me as I read.

    First, it opened my eyes to TV shows and movies that I had missed. This is not surprising, given the limited number of hours most of us have to watch TV or see movies and the growing library of material that directors, producers, and televisors are making available to the public. In at least one case, it directed me to a movie that I just read about in another book (a mystery) I had recently finished. I have added it to my to be seen list.

    Second, the book demonstrates how todays media echos Biblical truth - whether it intends to or not. Moving through the great themes of the salvation story, the author demonstrates how modern cultural media replays those themes on the either the big or small screen that consumes so much of our time. The need for Gods grace is evident not just in our lives, but in the lives of those we watch on TV or in our favorite movies.

    Finally, the book provides a model that can be used by anyone who critiques the work of others - whether it be TV, movies, books, video games, etc. Most of what we read or watch will reflect what God has trying to show us throughout history and in his word. We see the glory of His creation, the result of the fall, offers of grace and the result of accepting or rejecting that grace.

    The book is recommended for the pastor or layman who is attempting examine the media or using it to teach Biblical principles. The book may also have a place in the college classroom for those attempting to understand 21st century culture as it is played out in the media where a student is attempting to apply Biblical principles in evaluating that culture. It is one of the best book I have seen written for a general audience exploring culture and Biblical truth.


    This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.
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