The Enduring Relevance of the Didache

For a few years now, I’ve argued that the long-lost ancient text of the early church, known as the didache, has a great deal of relevance for the church of today. In fact, I wrote a book about it, called The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing and Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community.  It’s on sale this week for $2.99.

There’s a companion DVD for group use as well.

And see all the Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt books on sale this week.

Should Churches Be Able to Build Anywhere?

The current home of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Minnetonka, in Wayzata.

According to a federal law passed in 2000, the answer is basically yes.  To wit, a Unitarian Universalist church in Wayzata, Minnesota has won an out-of-court settlement to build a new church in the middle of a residential neighborhood, against the objections of the City of Wayzata:

In a church-state dispute with echoes across the country, a Wayzata congregation has won its battle to build a new church in a residential neighborhood.

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Minnetonka will be allowed to tear down a house and build a church and parking lot in its place, according to a federal court-mediated settlement reached last week between the church and the city of Wayzata.

To underscore the church’s victory, the settlement also requires the city and its insurer to pay the church $500,000 in damages and attorney’s fees.

The 2000 federal law under which the church sued Wayzata, which effectively allows religious projects to trump local zoning restrictions, is being tested in a growing number of communities around the country. Cases resulting in victories for congregations have cropped up in California, Maryland, Colorado and elsewhere.

In its 2010 federal suit, the Unitarian church also charged Wayzata with violating its First Amendment rights to free speech and religious worship.

My question is this: In this day and age, is it appropriate for churches to be built in residential neighborhoods? There is so much commercially-zoned property these days, it seems to me that churches should be built in those areas.

In other words, isn’t it more neighborly for a church to build in a commercial zone than in the middle of a residential neighborhood?

How Did People in the Bible Pray?

That’s the question I set out to answer in my book, Ask, Seek, Knock: Prayers to Change Your Life.  I just figured, if we look to the Bible as a sacred text that gives us guidance in spiritual matters, maybe the characters therein exemplified something we can learn from.  So I looked at Old Testament figures, the Psalmist, Jesus, the Apostles, and even leaders in the early, medieval, and modern church.

The result, I think, is a pretty interesting book.  And this week, it’s available for only 99¢.

See below for the Table of Contents.

And see all the Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt books on sale this week.

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Catholic Cardinal Compares Gay Activists to KKK

Chicago Cardinal Francis George seems to have a hard time saying "Thanks." (Chuck Berman, Chicago Tribune / November 27, 2011)

In another example of someone from the Catholic Church hierarchy using rhetoric that’s about as far from Jesus as one can imagine, Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George has compared organizers of that city’s gay pride parade to members of the white supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan:

You know, you don’t want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism. So I think if that’s what’s happening, and I don’t know that it is, but I would respect the local pastor’s, you know, position on that.”

The offense of the parade organizers? In an effort to accomodate the larger crowds that the parade has been attracting the route was changes and the time moved up.  But when a Catholic Church objected that their morning services would be difficult for parishioners to attend, the parade organizer moved the start time back to noon.

Instead of saying “thank you” for the compromise, the Cardinal “clarified” his remarks:

“Organizers (of the pride parade) invited an obvious comparison to other groups who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church,” the cardinal said in a statement issued Tuesday. “One such organization is the Ku Klux Klan which, well into the 1940s, paraded through American cities not only to interfere with Catholic worship but also to demonstrate that Catholics stand outside of the American consensus. It is not a precedent anyone should want to emulate.”

Um, Mr. Cardinal, I don’t think that the parade re-route was anti-Catholic bias by gays.

Gee, I can’t imagine why some people see Christians as homophobic nut jobs.