This book has two of my favorite elements in reading topics: theology and pop culture. The Stories We Tell has a great subtitle that helps clarify its contents: “How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth.” The Stories We Tell examines ways in which our stories reflect THE Story of the Gospel.
Positives: This guy knows pop culture! He references so many shows and movies, from Seinfeld and Mad Men to Pulp Fiction to Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Cosper masterfully weaves how these stories reflect the stories of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. Whether it is The Wire or The Bachelor, Cosper shows how these stories reflect our hearts desire for the one Author of Life. Even the bleakness shows the need for a savior.
Negatives: This guys knows pop culture! Some of his writing is bogged down in painful minutia of Mad Men and The Wire. Not seasons, but the entire series. It is just too much. Sometimes in class, students overquote from a particular source, and give minimal analysis. Too much quote and not enough explaining. That is how I felt for much of this book. Cosper devotes so much time to these series, along with Pulp Fiction, that it feels like a DVD commentary track. Far more than required to make the appropriate point.
Highlight: By far, the strongest part is the chapter titled, “Honey Boo Boo and the Weight of Glory.” Here, Cosper connects the reality television phenomenon with the rise of social media. They both go hand-in-hand in highlighting the almighty Me. This chapter, far above the others, is well worth reading.