The Berenstain Bears go Christian

The Berenstain Bears have been children’s favorites since the first title was published in 1962.  The son of the original cartoonist took over the franchise in the 1980s.  Mike Berenstain is a Christian, and he brings out explicit Christian themes in one line of the books published by Zondervan.  Go here for those titles.

A Jewish dad writes about why his four-year-old loves the Bears in the New York Times Magazine.  He was taken aback by the Christian titles, though he doesn’t mind them too much.  Read what he says after the jump.

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Religion replaces sex on the Banned Book list

Last week was Banned Books Week, the American Library Association’s tribute to books they get complaints about.  Now this observance is essentially bogus.  None of the current books they list every year have actually been banned.  Complaints are not the same as censorship.  Libraries have a certain budget and select what books they want to purchase.  The closest thing to censorship would be if librarians refuse to buy, say, conservative books or Christian books because they don’t agree with them and so prevent their patrons from reading them.

Nevertheless, it’s telling to see what books make the “Banned Book” lists, which are sort of a bellwether of the hot button issues from year to year.

Previously, most of the “banned books” raised objections because they contained sex scenes that parents considered unsuitable for children.  But this year, five of the ten most “banned” books drew objections because of their religious perspective.

Number 6 on the list is the Bible.  Secularists are wanting it to be banned because of its violence, intolerance, and because they think having it in a school or public library violates the separation of church and state.

Of the other titles that draw objections for religious reasons, they aren’t so Christian friendly:  one is pro-Islam, one promotes atheism, and the other two deal with LGBT issues and are probably critical of conservative religion. Most of the other titles that raised objections had gay and transgender themes.

But those are the flash points today:  LGBT and religion. [Read more…]

Americans are still reading books

The death of the book has been greatly exaggerated.

A Pew study has found that Americans are reading books in large numbers.  Nearly three-fourths of Americans have read at least one book in the past year.  The average number of books read in that period is 12.

E-books are growing in popularity, but they still lag behind print books.  28% of the public have read an e-book over the last year, but only 6% read e-books exclusively. [Read more…]

When TV goes literary

NBC is developing a new series based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel Oliver Twist.  The series, called Twist, will be a “procedural”–that is, it will follow the main characters as they solve crimes.  Here is how the network describes the show:  “A sexy contemporary take on Oliver Twist with a struggling 20-something female (Twist) who finally finds a true sense of family in a strange group of talented outcasts who use their unique skills to take down wealthy criminals.”

So Dickens’ orphan boy will become a sexy 20-something woman.  The homeless children whom Fagin teaches to be pickpockets will become talented crimefighters.

Similarly, Fox has in development a series called Camelot, based on the King Arthur legends.  It too will be a procedural.  It will feature a graffiti artist named Art who solves crimes with the help of his ex-girlfriend Gwen and his best friend Lance.  (Seriously.  Read about it here.)

But at least the TV-watching public is getting the benefit of classic literature!

These series may sound like parody, something from the Onion, but they are real.  Nevertheless, they beg for actual parody. What other modernized procedurals could we come up with from other works of literature and (we’ll extend it a little) cultural milestones?  I’ll go first, after the jump. [Read more…]

My vocation trilogy

I have written three books on vocation.  I just realized that this constitutes a trilogy.  They aren’t The Lord of the Rings, but they are connected  and build into a whole.

(1)  God at Work:  Your Christian Vocation in All of Life.  This sets forth the doctrine of vocation.

(2)  Family Vocation:  Your Christian Callings in Marriage, Parenthood, and Childhood.  Written with my daughter Mary Moerbe, this book explores in depth the various vocations within the family, showing too how the teachings about God’s presence in vocation and loving and serving the neighbor can help solve the problems in family life.  It also delves into other aspects of vocation that I came to after writing God at Work, including cross-bearing, self-sacrifice, and self-denial in vocation.

(3)  Working for Your Neighbor:  A Lutheran Primer on Vocation, Economics, and Ordinary Life.  This book is about the relationship between vocation and economics.  More than that, it explores the social dimension of economics, going into the history of the concept and its cultural impact.  Again, it also includes new insights that I have discovered in researching this rich, rich teaching, drawing on a range of other theologians and writers who have written thoughtfully about the concept.  I also go into more detail about the relationship between vocation and justification. [Read more…]

“Family Vocation” giveaway

GoodReads is giving away five copies of Family Vocation:  God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood.  I wrote that book with my daughter Mary Moerbe.

It goes beyond God at Work, not just in exploring the family vocations in depth–important in itself, if we want to revitalize Christian marriage and parenting–but also in including material on vocation in general that I learned after publishing that earlier book.

All you do is click “Enter Giveaway” on the widget after the jump.  Five entrants will be randomly chosen.  If you are one of them, you will get the book in the mail.  The contest will go through the month of September.

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