Category Archives: Books

Help Drive Down this Fake #1 Ranking

Publishing is an interesting activity. Apparently, one of the publishing industry’s techniques is to try to hype something into reality.

Take as an example what distributors do with my slim little book, Catechetical Evangelism in the Newspaper. Smashwords released this as an eBook on January 14, 2014. As the Smashwords Style Guide says, that led to 15 minutes of fame.

Tip: Immediately after publishing your book at Smashwords, it’ll be featured on the Smashwords home page if it has a cover. Your home page feature typically lasts anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending upon how quickly you roll off the page when others publish after you. Therefore, don’t upload your book to Smashwords until you have a good looking cover image because you want to take full advantage of your 15 minutes of fame. If you upload without a cover, the book will miss the home page feature, even if you upload the cover hours later.

While Smashwords distributes a .mobi edition of eBooks (along with other formats) that works on the Kindle eReader, Amazon itself does not pick up that edition and distribute it. So, an author must make an arrangement with Amazon itself, and must reformat the work according to Amazon’s style guide. So, I did that with Catechetical Evangelism in the Newspaper.

Then Amazon notifies me that this book also could be reformatted again into a paperback edition. I wondered why anyone would want to pay for a paperback edition of a book originally distributed as an eBook for free, but maybe there are some who prefer paper. Besides, I admit, I wanted to see how it would look. So I reformatted it again, and indeed, Amazon did release it as a paperback. At first, my cover design for the paperback was not very good, and I muffed the formatting of the title page. So I had to fix those things, and wait for the fixes to take effect.

Well, that took effect yesterday, and now already today, Amazon has tagged it as “#1 New Release in Catechism.” Do you believe that? I am skeptical. Seems more like trying to hype something into reality. I certainly hope it does not mean that so few books in the topic of Catechisms are purchased that this one really is the #1 new title in the topic. If that is true, we have work to do. Help me drive my book down in the rankings, by buying other great books in the topic of Catechisms on Amazon. Here is a starter list for you.

Martin Luther’s Catechisms: Forming the Faith, by Timothy J. Wengert.

Luther’s Large Catechism: With Study Questions, Paul T. McCain, Editor

Praying Luther’s Small Catechism, by John T. Pless

That I May Be His Own: An Overview of Luther’s Catechisms, by Charles Arand

Studying Luther’s Large Catechism: A Workbook for Christian Discipleship, by Ryan C. MacPherson

Teaching God’s Children His Teaching: A guide for the study of Luther’s Catechism, by Robert Kolb

How to Teach Luther’s Small Catechism, by H. J. Boettcher

What’s That Supposed To Mean?, by James A. Lucas

Teaching Luther’s Catechism, by Herbert Girgensohn

Teaching Luther’s Catechism II, by Herbert Girgensohn

Amazon Distributes Paperback Edition of Catechetical Evangelism in the Newspaper

Previously available only as an eBook, Catechetical Evangelism in the Newspaper now is available as a paperback from Amazon. Because of costs of production and the mandatory terms of distribution through Amazon, this edition has a price, currently $3.59. But, the good news is that it qualifies for Amazon Prime, which means shipping is free. All but one of the eBook editions still are free, and the Kindle Edition on Amazon is $0.99, or $0.00 with KindleUnlimited.

Description

Evangelism springs from Luther’s Small Catechism into the newspaper. This book shares from the author’s experiences in writing religion articles published in his local newspaper. It presents ideas about catechetical evangelism and newspaper evangelism. It explains an approach to writing catechetical newspaper articles and includes three dozen of the author’s published articles as examples of the approach.

Contents

Introduction

Evangelism and the Small Catechism
– Reformation of the Catechism
– Evangelical Even Where Not Expected
– Throbbing with Genius; Ready to Give an Answer

Newspaper Evangelism
– Fountain of Ideas
– Have Something to Say
– Welcome Your New Friend: the Word Limit
– Wisdom Cries Out in the Street
– Interest and Illustration
– Inspiration and Perspiration
– Confessional Fidelity

Example Newspaper Articles
– Christ’s State of Humiliation
– Christ’s State of Exaltation
– Trinity
– Baptism

For a description of the various eBooks formats and a linked list of distributors of Catechetical Evangelism in the Newspaper as an eBook, click here.

Catechetical Evangelism in the Newspaper — Editions and Distributors

Description Contents | eBook EditionsPDF Edition Paperback Edition | About the Author

Catechetical Evangelism in the Newspaper is available in a variety of electronic editions at prices from free to $0.99, and in paperback for $3.59 with free shipping.

Description

Evangelism springs from Luther’s Small Catechism into the newspaper. This book shares from the author’s experiences in writing religion articles published  in his local newspaper. It presents ideas about the Catechism and evangelism,  and about newspaper evangelism. It explains an approach to writing catechetical  newspaper articles and includes three dozen of the author’s published articles  as examples of the approach.

Contents

Introduction

Evangelism and the Small Catechism
– Reformation of the Catechism
– Evangelical Even Where Not Expected
– Throbbing with Genius; Ready to Give an Answer

Newspaper Evangelism
– Fountain of Ideas
– Have Something to Say
– Welcome Your New Friend: the Word Limit
– Wisdom Cries Out in the Street
– Interest and Illustration
– Inspiration and Perspiration
– Confessional Fidelity

Example Newspaper Articles
– Christ’s State of Humiliation
– Christ’s State of Exaltation
– Trinity
– Baptism

eBook Editions

This book is published in multiple electronic editions through a number of eBook distributors. The price is free everywhere except on Amazon, where the price is $0.99. The distributors include:

On Smashwords, the following editions are available:

  • epub (industry standard)
  • .mobi (Kindle)
  • html (online reading)
  • lrf (older Sony readers)
  • pdb (older Palm devices)
  • txt (without formatting)

PDF Edition

A PDF version is available for free download at LutheranCatechism.com. This version is formatted somewhat like a paper book, and it has hyperlink navigation for the table of contents.

Paperback Edition

A paperback edition is available on Amazon. Because of costs of production and the mandatory terms of distribution through Amazon, this edition has a price, currently $3.59. But, the good news is that it qualifies for Amazon Prime, which means shipping is free.

About the Author

T. R. Halvorson was born in Sidney, Montana on July 14, 1953, baptized at  Pella Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sidney, Montana on November 8, 1953, and  confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Williston, North Dakota in 1968. He and  his wife, Marilyn, are members of Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Sidney,  Montana. They have three sons and six grandchildren. T. R. farms at Wildrose,  North Dakota, and is Deputy County Attorney in Sidney, Montana. He has been a  computer programmer; and an author, conference speaker, instructor, and  consultant to industry in online legal information. He is among the authors of  the religion column in the Sidney Herald at Sidney, Montana. He is the  Editor of  LutheranCatechism.com, a  regular contributor at Brothers of John the Steadfast (SteadfastLutherans.org,)

Amazon Now Distributing Catechetical Evangelism in the Newspaper

Amazon is now distributing the new eBook, Catechetical Evangelism in the Newspaper, by T. R. Halvorson. You can find it here. This brings the number of distributors to eight. The first seven were:

A PDF version is available for free download at LutheranCatechism.com.

All versions are free, except Amazon, which retains control over whether it will allow a book to be distributed through it for free. On Amazon, it costs Amazon’s lowest price, $0.99.

Description

Evangelism springs from Luther’s Small Catechism into the newspaper. This book shares from the author’s experiences in writing religion articles published in his local newspaper. It presents ideas about the Catechism and evangelism, and about newspaper evangelism. It explains an approach to writing catechetical newspaper articles and includes three dozen of the author’s published articles as examples of the approach.

Contents

Introduction

Evangelism and the Small Catechism
– Reformation of the Catechism
– Evangelical Even Where Not Expected
– Throbbing with Genius; Ready to Give an Answer

Newspaper Evangelism
– Fountain of Ideas
– Have Something to Say
– Welcome Your New Friend: the Word Limit
– Wisdom Cries Out in the Street
– Interest and Illustration
– Inspiration and Perspiration
– Confessional Fidelity

Example Newspaper Articles
– Christ’s State of Humiliation
– Christ’s State of Exaltation
– Trinity
– Baptism

About the Author

T. R. Halvorson was born in Sidney, Montana on July 14, 1953, baptized at Pella Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sidney, Montana on November 8, 1953, and confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Williston, North Dakota in 1968. He and his wife, Marilyn, are members of Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Sidney, Montana. They have three sons and six grandchildren. T. R. farms at Wildrose, North Dakota, and is Deputy County Attorney in Sidney, Montana. He has been a computer programmer; and an author, conference speaker, instructor, and consultant to industry in online legal information. He is among the authors of the religion column in the Sidney Herald at Sidney, Montana. He is the Editor of LutheranCatechism.com, a regular contributor at Brothers of John the Steadfast (SteadfastLutherans.org,)

Released Today — Catechetical Evangelism in the Newspaper

01–14–2017 — LutheranCatechism announces the release today of the new, free eBook, Catechetical Evangelism in the Newspaper, by T. R. Halvorson. The book is published through Smashwords and is available there in the following formats:

  • epub (industry standard)
  • .mobi (Kindle)
  • html (online reading)
  • lrf (older Sony readers)
  • pdb (older Palm devices)
  • txt (without formatting)

The PDF version is available for free download at LutheranCatechism.com.

Description

Evangelism springs from Luther’s Small Catechism into the newspaper. This book shares from the author’s experiences in writing religion articles published in his local newspaper. It presents ideas about the Catechism and evangelism, and about newspaper evangelism. It explains an approach to writing catechetical newspaper articles and includes three dozen of the author’s published articles as examples of the approach.

Contents

Introduction

Evangelism and the Small Catechism
– Reformation of the Catechism
– Evangelical Even Where Not Expected
– Throbbing with Genius; Ready to Give an Answer

Newspaper Evangelism
– Fountain of Ideas
– Have Something to Say
– Welcome Your New Friend: the Word Limit
– Wisdom Cries Out in the Street
– Interest and Illustration
– Inspiration and Perspiration
– Confessional Fidelity

Example Newspaper Articles
– Christ’s State of Humiliation
– Christ’s State of Exaltation
– Trinity
– Baptism

About the Author

T. R. Halvorson was born in Sidney, Montana on July 14, 1953, baptized at Pella Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sidney, Montana on November 8, 1953, and confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Williston, North Dakota in 1968. He and his wife, Marilyn, are members of Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Sidney, Montana. They have three sons and six grandchildren. T. R. farms at Wildrose, North Dakota, and is Deputy County Attorney in Sidney, Montana. He has been a computer programmer; and an author, conference speaker, instructor, and consultant to industry in online legal information. He is among the authors of the religion column in the Sidney Herald at Sidney, Montana. He is the Editor of LutheranCatechism.com, a regular contributor at Brothers of John the Steadfast (SteadfastLutherans.org,)

Pre-publication Announcement — Catechetical Evangelism in the Newspaper

This is a pre-publication announcement of the forthcoming book, Catechetical Evangelism in the Newspaper, by T. R. Halvorson.

This book is about evangelism that springs from Luther’s Small Catechism. It is about adapting catechetical evangelism to presentation in newspapers.

The first part of the book briefly shows that Luther’s Small Catechism is suited to evangelism. It shows how the Catechism is a source of ideas for evangelistic newspaper articles. It reports an approach the author has used experimentally for writing catechetical newspaper articles.

The book includes three dozen of the author’s published articles as examples and illustrations of the experiment.

The combination of the materials is designed to assist others who might want to contribute evangelistic articles in their own local newspapers.

“Thoughts on the Catechism” by Pastor Larry A. Peters from Pastoral Meanderings

Editor’s Note:

Rev. Larry A. Peters, Senior Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church of Clarksville, Tennessee, kindly gives his permission to republish this article from his blog, Pastoral Meanderings. The original posting may be found here.

When children are in their early elementary school years, their minds are actually at the peak time for easy rote memorization.  This statement is but one of the topics discussed by a book on catechetical and confirmation practice in the LCMS, called Teaching the Faith at Home.  The point is well made.  On the one hand, pastors and others teaching those classes enjoy the ability to count on the cognitive skills and development of reason and the mind to be able to deal with abstract concepts yet when this occurs is well past the time when memorization comes easy to the student learning the faith.  Believe me, I wrestle back and forth on this very issue.  On the one hand effective instruction in the faith benefits greatly from the internalization of the formative material of the Small Catechism accompanied by the regular routine of liturgy and hymnody.  On the other hand, it is often difficult to speak conceptually to those same youth.

The book suggests that there is a solution and that is the recovery of the home as the first place where children learn the catechism and, I might add, the use of the Sunday school to encourage the memorization of the most basic confessional document and catechetical resource of Lutheranism.  This was not always such a radical statement.  At one time the bulk of the catechesis was done at home and the role of the pastor and parish was to examine the catechuman and judge the faithful work of father and mother in fulfilling the most basic parental responsibility of teaching the faith to their children.  That is not ordinarily the case today.  Today it is more common for pastor (or other catechetical instructor) to find that the student has little awareness of and familiarity with Luther’s Small Catechism (much less any other Lutheran confessional document).  In addition the Sunday school has become preoccupied with teaching the major stories of the Bible and introducing children and youth to the Jesus whom the Scriptures proclaim.  While I certainly do not want to suggest that either of these tasks are not important or are in any way less important, I do believe that there is still cause and benefit for including memorization of the Small Catechism in the Sunday school as well.

The truth is that we live at a time when many adult Lutherans have but passing familiarity with the Small Catechism and parents feel ill-equipped to teach the Catechism to their children.  New member instruction often is spent more on issues related to the Apostles’ Creed and basic functional information on the denomination, the parish, and the specifics of local organization and ministry.  Children and youth have been experimented upon from time to time from those who seek to form Christian character as much as or even more so than teaching the faith by teaching the Catechism.  We are so enamored by the idea of some new program or curriculum or published resource that we have tended to shrug our shoulders at the Catechism as something old-fashioned or even outdated.

In effect, there are Lutheran pastors and Lutheran parishes in which the Catechism is affirmed in theory but absent from the practice of catechesis for either children or adults.  The faith is taught but the Catechism is seen as merely one of many possible tools to accomplish the larger purpose.  This has caused great harm to the faith and to the unity of the faith within Lutheran denominations such as the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  It is a regular occurrence for a Lutheran pastor to find that Lutherans moving from another parish and youth moving into your area who have not yet finished their instruction prior to confirmation have no real awareness of nor familiarity with the Small Catechism.  The adults did not encounter it in their adult instruction and youth did not use it in their youth catechism classes.

Yet we ask new members:  Do you hold all the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God and the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, drawn from them and confessed in the Small Catechism, to be faithful and true?   and we ask of youth at their confirmation: Do you confess the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, drawn from the Scriptures, as you have learned to know it from the Small Catechism, to be faithful and true?

In essence, the most common red thread to connect those who became Lutherans later in life with youth and those who were confirmed somewhere around the 8th grade or so is their familiarity with the Small Catechism.  Remove the Small Catechism from this and Lutheran identity will not only suffer, it will die.     

Preorder Praying Luther’s Small Catechism by John T. Pless

Now we can preorder Praying Luther’s Small Catechism by Rev. Dr. John T. Pless. The order page is here.

To pray the Catechism is to learn how to speak to God the Father in the name of the Son through the Holy Spirit. Praying Luther’s Small Catechism moves sequentially through the Six Chief Parts of Christian Doctrine with prayers developed out of the catechetical material.

Commentaries on the doctrine of each passage reflect on how the teaching shapes our praying. Accessible to the beginner but insightful for the wisest, this is a wonderful resource for pastors and veterans of the Church, and for laypeople who serve as the heads (and catechetical teachers) of their households.

Recommended — A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories

Recommended by my Pastor, Rolf Preus, is A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories by Arthur W. Gross.

There are plenty of Bible story books and their quality varies widely. This one has a mostly highly important distinction from the great run of Bible story books: It presents the Bible as a book about Jesus.

To many of you, this will sound so obvious that you might wonder, don’t all of them? Well, no, they don’t. Many Bible story books do a passable job in the New Testament, but they fail badly in the Old Testament. The Old Testament books are books about Jesus, and this Bible story book presents the stories in a way to give children the understanding that the stories are about Jesus.

Used paperback editions on Amazon are as cheap as $0.01 (that is not a misprint, one cent) and used hardbound are as cheap as $0.99. At ChristianBook.com, the hardcover edition currently is on sale, and checkout is easy with PayPal. They also are offering bulk discounts.

There are two companion products, a New Testament workbook and an Old Testament workbook.

Reader Recommendation — A Summary of the Christian Faith (Catechesis), David Chytraeus

Member of our Facebook group, Erich Heidenreich, recommended A Summary of the Christian Faith (1568), by David Chytraeus (1531-1600), translated by Richard Dinda, introduction by Paul T. McCain, Repristination Press, Decatur, Illinois (1994).

This is a translation of Chytraeus’ work originally titled Catechesis.

Eric says:

For further catechesis in addition to the Large Catechism I cannot recommend highly enough the 1568 book A Summary of the Christian Faith by David Chytraeus, one of the authors of the Formula of Concord. This is an excellent example of the Loci method being used in catechesis.

Here is the publisher’s description:

Originally intended for the advanced instruction of young people, Chytraeus’ A Summary of the Christian Faith is a marvelous book for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the faith. Chytraeus (1531–1600), one of the authors of the Formula of Concord, ranks as one of the most significant Lutheran theologians of 16th century. His Summary is not marked by the various synodical concerns of later lay dogmatics; it is truly what it claims to be: A Summary of the Christian Faith.

    A Summary of the Christian Faith (Originally entitled Catechesis) offers two great blessings to its readers: (1) an opportunity to see how one of the Lutheran fathers confessed and taught the faith, and (2) an opportunity to grow in one’s own knowledge and appreciation of Christian doctrine. “Chytraeus had the irenic nature of Melanchthon with the doctrinal commitment of Luther.” (From the Introduction.)

    Chytraeus’ Summary is one of the earliest examples of a Lutheran dogmatics following the loci model first set forth by Philip Melanchthon in 1521. Unlike Chemnitz’s more extensive Loci Theologici, Chytraeus’ Summary was written for a lay audience. The work consists of 10 chapters: (1) God, (2) Creation, (3) The Law of God, (4) On Sin, (5) On the Remission of Sins, (6) On the New Obedience, (7) On the Sacrament, (8) On Repentance, (9) On the Church, (10) On the Immortality of the Church, the Resurrection, and Eternal Life.  Chytraeus’ “Brief Explanation” of the Lord’s Prayer is also appended to the Summary.

David Chytraeus is a person we should know more about. Brothers of John the Steadfast have a helpful brief biography on their Facebook page.

Repristination Press is a publishing house for confessional Lutherans. It Press was started in Fort Wayne, Indiana in June of 1993, beginning publication with several books by Wilhelm Loehe, Charles Porterfield Krauth, and other works by 19th century Lutheran theologians. Over time, Repristination Press has become a leading publisher of English translations 16th and 17th century Lutheran theology, including works by Johann Gerhard, Nicolaus Hunnius, David Chytraeus, and J.A. Quenstedt. Repristination Press has been located in Texas since 1998.