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.

[Read more…]

Chance for free books

Are you familiar with GoodReads, a popular site for following authors, seeing what your friends are reading, and getting ideas for books that you might like?  The site has a giveaway feature, with which you can sign up for a “drawing” that can give you free books. For the month of August, my daughter’s book, Blessed: God’s Gift of Love, co-written with Christopher Mitchell, has three copies available as giveaways.  (Go here for my review of that book.)

In September, our book, Family Vocations will be available.  I’ll give you a link when the giveaway is set up.  In the meantime, take a shot at Mary’s book.  The contest is linked after the jump.

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A comedy-thriller about the Reformation

You have GOT to read The Relic Master, a novel by Christopher Buckley (son of conservative icon William F. Buckley).  It’s about a dealer in sacred relics (bones of the saints, artifacts from Bible stories, etc.) that, when venerated, were thought to provide time-off from purgatory.  The story takes place in the time of Martin Luther.  The cast of characters is a who’s-who of Reformation history.  Buckley, a noted satirist, has written a novel that is funny, exciting, and true to history.  His scathing portrait of the religious corruption and decadence of the time leaves no doubt that Luther, in his effort to reform the Church and recover authentic Christianity, is the good guy.

Dismas is the relic supplier for both Frederick the Wise of Saxony and Archbishop Albert of Mainz.  Some theses posted on a church door by a friar who teaches in Frederic’s university start to make waves, with Frederic protecting him and Albert trying to burn him at the stake.  Dismas, caught in the middle with his livelihood threatened, sees Luther’s point, but gets caught up in a relic forgery scam, aided by his side-kick, the great artist Albrecht Dürer.  The plot thickens, and their plot thickens, leading to a mad-cap scheme to steal the Shroud of Turin. [Read more…]