Our opening few weeks of the New City Fellows program focuses on the biblical storyline. One of the reasons we do this is because of how pervasive stories are for humans. As the NYU social scientist Jonathan Haidt points out, “The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor.”[1]


As we invent new technology, we aren’t doing away with stories. We are just inventing new mediums by which to pass them down. The likes of Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube have replaced our sage elders around the campfire, but the stories are still being told. And more than this, in even in the most “enlightened” modern cultures, our stories keep reminding us of the human hunger for something beyond this world.


C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien offer an explanatory Christian account of our seemingly inescapable storying nature. Humans continually create stories while finding themselves unable to avoid living out narratives precisely because that’s exactly what we are designed to do. Human beings “have been created by God with an innate capacity to create myths as echoes of a greater story or ‘story of a larger kind.’ In that human beings bear God’s image, human beings are endowed with the Creator’s capacity to create, in a suitably accommodated and reduced manner.”[2] As Tolkien says, we are “sub-creators” subconsciously mirroring our creator and even echoing the “supreme” story that “entered History.”[3]


Human potentiality is reached not by giving up on stories, which we can’t really do, but by embracing the true story of the world—the story that elucidates all other stories. The good news is that there is something in the human heart, even amidst the culture shifts and our disordered fallen condition, that longs for the better story. Much of the challenge for us as Christians today is learning to embed our lives in the true story of the Gospel, while offering this as the better story to our friends and neighbors.


Dr. Josh Chatraw

Director of New City Fellows and Theologian in Residence



[1] Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (New York: Vintage, 2012), 281.

[2] McGrath, The Intellectual World of C.S. Lewis, 64.

[3] Tolkien, Tree and Leaf (London: HarperCollins, 1988), 72–73.