Thinking Out Loud

March 7, 2013

Granddaughter of Robert Schuller Pens Controversial Book

After Rachel Held Evans’ A Year of Biblical Womanhood, could the faith-related book market possibly push the envelope any further?

Angie Schuller WyattThe answer is a resounding yes with the release of God and Boobs: Balance Faith and Sexuality by Angie Schuller Wyatt, first granddaughter of Cyrstal Cathedral/Hour of Power founder Robert H. Schuller and wife of Christopher Wyatt, founder of GodTube.

But the cover of the new book — even a static image of it — would probably not meet the standards of the video sharing network.

I’ve opted not to reproduce it here.

PRNewswire reports:

[The book is] a surprising twist to take on religion, a male dominated vocation, especially from a famous family with four generations of men with the same name, Robert Schuller. Her bold move has everyone asking, “Is Schuller Wyatt committing spiritual suicide?”  Schuller Wyatt is already paying the price. 

A third-generation pastor, Schuller Wyatt was scheduled to appear on the Hour of Power broadcast where her brother Robert “Bobby” Schuller III preaches.  But when word got out that Schuller Wyatt had written God and Boobs, she was unceremoniously dumped via email from a church executive who gave no explanation.

continue reading here

But don’t expect to browse a copy of the self-published title at your local bookstore anytime soon. The book is available on various e-book platforms but the print edition is presently the exclusive property of Amazon. The back cover blurb states:

The idea that women can live sexy and strong is counter to church culture. But Angie Schuller Wyatt, granddaughter of celebrated televangelist Dr. Robert H Schuller, exposes the reasons women are repressed and offers her secrets to living sexy and strong.

Growing up in the world’s most famous church, Angie Schuller Wyatt spent her years at the Crystal Cathedral in the shadows of a male dominated society. It was a painful time, but years of study and hard work provided her the tools she needed to break free.

Through a beautifully woven tapestry of real-life stories, Angie and other women share their powerful and personal experiences and provide practical suggestions for how to live the life God intended. Through these life-changing stories, you’ll discover how to have faith AND femininity; live sexy, strong and self-aware; feel sensual without shame; break free from religious constrains; enjoy the faith your mom never told you about; find true love in today’s “sex sells” world. 

So to all my women readers, my wish for you today is that you can “enjoy the faith your mom never told you about.” Live sexy. Live strong.


December 27, 2012

Money for Llamas and Donkeys and Sheep, Oh My!

Christmas pageant authenticity

A provider of live animals for past Christmas productions at the Crystal Cathedral is finally going to see some payment, albeit it years later.  A week ago the Orange County Register reported:

…attorneys and staffers planned to work late Friday to verify amounts and start stuffing envelopes with the checks, which should be arriving after Christmas, Ringstad said. “Creditors have been waiting a long time. We can work late into the night. The creditors deserve it,” he said.

But Robert H. Schuller, who will also receive some money in this round of settlements, has filed an appeal of a judge’s decision over money he feels is due him for damages, which some reports have indicated includes payment due for royalties for books he authored. (It’s all very confusing!)

While that story isn’t finished yet, it is, in the meantime, a great victory for people who rent sheep, camels and cows to large glass churches.

Not-so-related llama video. (13 million views!)

 

November 10, 2012

Weekend Link List

Weekend List Lynx

Do not ask for whom the link list tolls… as I won’t know what you’re talking about.

May 20, 2012

Crystal Cathedral: A Screenshot is Worth a Thousand Words

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:57 am

I am always wary when churches — of all types and sizes — feel the need to conduct a survey of the membership. If the survey is to learn more about the spiritual state of the parishioners, that’s fine. But if it’s asking for opinions about the type of music or the ministry direction or whatever, then the leaders aren’t leading.

At the Crystal Cathedral however, things are currently in a bit of turmoil, so there are a handful of websites out there — each with a particular axe to grind — attempting to spread information and advocate for a particular future of the congregation that identifies with the big glass church in Anaheim.  Websites such as Penrod’s Pokes.

So here’s a couple of things to do with this.  First, if you think your church has problems, read what at least one person considers the issues at Hour of Power and Crystal Cathedral Ministries. Things may not seem so bad at your church home. Second, look closely; what do you think is really going on here?

April 18, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Welcome to WLL #100 !!  The list lynx is back for the party.

  • Okay, the story of the church in Corpus Christi, Texas that gave away cars and flat-screen TVs on Easter Sunday is so incredibly stupid that I absolutely refuse to link to it.
  • How much information is too much for six and seven-year-olds when the subject at hand is VBS stories of the persecuted church from the files of Voice of the Martyrs?
  • Here’s the Christian movie you didn’t hear about: The Church Team is a group of very astute gamblers who use their skills for good and not for evil. The film is The Holy Rollers. [alternate link for preview]
  • A woman with eight kids takes a very different look at the subject of how many kids to have and comes up with a very balanced answer. For some, maybe two is too many.
  • Author David Gregory changes publishers for the third book in the Perfect Stranger brand, Night With A Perfect Stranger.  You can enjoy a free .pdf download of chapter one at this link.
  • Cross Point Church (Nashville) Executive Director Jenni Catron shares the church’s seven staff values.
  • And do you know a new pastor just starting out?  Trey Morgan has 21 tips for a young minister, from a not-so-old minister.
  • Jamie Wright continues looking at the liabilities of short term missions: “Where Jesus appointed, we take volunteers. Where Jesus sent pairs, we send herds. Where Jesus admonished for danger and quiet humility along the road, we opt for vacation destinations and loud self-congratulations.” Amen to that.
  • The latest Top 200 Christian Blogs list is out, but once again, finishing at #201 as I’m sure we did, you won’t find this one listed.
  • Phil Johnson: “It’s my conviction that the worst, most persistent hindrances to the advance of the gospel today are worldly churches and hireling shepherds who trivialize Christianity.”
  • An update from Donald Miller on how the Blue Like Jazz movie is doing at the box office.
  • It’s been five years since BC cartoonist Johnny Hart left this earth, and blogger David Rupert reminds us of Hart’s great conversion story.
  • Looking for the perfect getaway?  You could always rent the home of Robert A. Schuller and his wife Donna for $700/night or $5,000/week which includes continental breakfast.
  • If you sponsor a child through Compassion, here’s what your sponsored child would like to know about you.
  • I finally got to hold a copy of The Voice complete Bible in my hands this week. It’s a really, really different type of translation.  Here’s a passage from Proverbs; I never knew Lady Wisdom was so attractive.  Here’s more about this unique version came to be.
  • UK cartoonist Dave Walker has created another repository for his unique gifts. Check out Dave Walker’s Guide to… which will featured non-church-themed musings. Of course, for everything else there’s the blog we know and love.
  • John Fischer blogs on the “God believes in you” theme that got me in a lot of trouble here when I tried to reiterate Rob Bell’s version of it. Let’s have another go.
  • Kurt Devine steps into a Malaysian brothel only to find that the stereotypical customer isn’t a middle-aged businessman, but someone more like himself.
  • Agitators at Indiana University try to shut down Douglas Wilson’s two lectures on sex and culture, but the show must go on.
  • And now it’s time for… Devotional Apologetics for Scientists, Engineers and Math Geeks. Enjoy Dark Matter and Layered Assumptions.
  • Tween Mania Department: It may not be The Disney Channel, but your 10-16 year olds can audition to be part of iShine this Friday in Nashville.
  • Because People Want to Know Department: Do you and your spouse go to bed at the same time?  Pete and Brandi Wilson do.
  • Speaking of which, of the writing of rather explicit books on sexuality for Christians, there is no end. Here’s an introduction to Canadian author Sheila Wray Gregoire, author of The Good Girl’s Guide To Great Sex, from her blog To Love, Honor and Vacuum.
  • Here’s a 3.5 minute conversation with God on the subject of prayer from Worship House Media uploaded to GodTube. I love the concept; hope the audio is fixed by the time you visit.
  • Not exactly the deepest list ever here, but… have your suggestions in by Monday night for next week’s list.

March 14, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Some weeks the link list is more a collection of bizarre news stories and other weeks it’s more a collection of solid items promoting deeper Christian thought and growth. This week is one of the latter; more than dozen excellent pieces which all could have landed here as their own blog post and discussion. Get a coffee and come back to the computer for a longer stay.

  • Because the wearing of crosses isn’t a requirement of the Christian faith, the European Court of Human Rights will be asked to rule that no Christian has a religious right to do so. It’s that position versus two British women who want to argue for the right in a case with wide ranging consequences.
  • Not related, but this week I happened on a January blog post by John Voelz explaining why his church forgoes having a cross in exchange for a variety of other Christian symbols.
  • Ed Young cites Willie George Ministries’ article 18 Lessons in 20 Years. A must read for pastors, executive pastors and church board members.
  • Relevant Magazine reports that the sexual revolution is hitting singles in the church just as hard as those outside the faith circle. Whatever happened to True Love Waits?
  • Also at Relevant, Jim Henderson shares an excerpt from his new book, Resignation of Eve: What if Adam’s Rib Is No Longer Willing to be the Church’s Backbone? The chapter asserts that women are the church’s most wasted resource.
  • Michael Lawrence revisits the issue of “belonging before believing” that is popular today in many faith communities. He says the concept is just creating confusion on both sides of the equation.
  • How well do you know that person who sat next to you last Sunday? Russell D. Moore says that “imposters love the church.” This begs the question, “But why, when there is so much opportunity for debauchery out there in the world around us, do such people choose the church?” Sample answer: “..I think it’s because deception can look a lot like discipleship…”  Take some time working through this one.
  • At Church Central Leadership Community, Mitch Todd challenges the whole notion of creating comfortable environments for those who attend. He suggests that it simply isn’t working, and you would do better to hold your next worship service in a sewer. Well, he almost says that.
  • A well known sect that began alongside the Jesus Movement of the ’70s is slowly moving from a cultic to more orthodox profile. Canadian cult-watcher James Beverley reports on the Children of God.
  • In a major in-depth piece, CNN’s Belief Blog reports on the Mormon crackdown on proxy baptisms, the practice wherein a young person is baptized in place of a deceased person. Certainly, they want to stop the attention currently being drawn to this peculiar rite in the wake of media reports of proxy immersions on behalf of confirmed Jews.
  • Cate MacDonald writes at World Magazine that Bear Grylls and Justin Bieber both say they are Christians but don’t go to church: “The contemporary aversion to church membership is a common response to secular criticisms, but these high-profile Christians might be doing more harm than good. …America’s youth need examples of people who live vibrant Christian lives in the public eye, and encourage them to do the same.”
  • Henry M. Imler hauls out a 2007 study on how heading off to college affects a student’s faith. If you’ve got kids heading off this fall — or there already — this is a must read.
  • Rev. Bob Larson, where have you been? Well, he turns up on Anderson Cooper last week with three teenage girls in tow, who have been trained by Larson to perform exorcisms by the thousands. But Cooper thinks their answers are far too rehearsed, and it’s hard not to agree with him.
  • Two vastly different links from author Karen Spears Zacharias. The first, rather mundane, finds her and husband Tim cleaning up after Wal-Mart
  • …The second one — a book excerpt — is much more sobering. Karen visits a family where a young single mother, now wheelchair-bound, returns to her son and parents after eight months of therapy following being struck by train. Her father sees it all as an answer to prayer. You’ll need to read this twice, and with a box of tissue. You’ll also think of someone to forward this to, I’m sure.
  • Can you stand one more article about ABC-TV’s GCB? This one is worth checking. Are we upset about what the show says about us, or upset about what it says about God? Pastor Jeff has met all kinds of Christians, but says the people in the show are strangers to him.
  • Finally, on the lighter side, Tim Stafford has decided, in the interest of balance I’m sure, to list ten reasons why men should not be ordained. Yes, it says men.

A younger Robert H. Schuller preaches on the roof of the snack bar of the drive-in theater on the site that years later would house the Crystal Cathedral. This Orange County Register photo appeared marking the announcement last week of Schuller's resignation from ministry. Click the image to read the whole story at OC Register.

March 8, 2012

A Message to Elder Evangelical Statesmen: Retire Graciously

I’m not sure the mystery writer known as Bene Diction has connected the dots on the last three (almost) consecutive posts that ran on his blog on March 6th and 7th. To me the common theme is inescapable.

First, we have John Piper make pronouncements as to the message behind the run of tornadoes in the U.S. heartland that left dozens dead and thousands homeless. This is nothing new. Piper is required to have a take on everything. It’s in his job description. Just as sure as the morning DJ on the local radio station will fill time between commercials pontificating on the events of the day prior, so also does JP feel compelled to weigh in on everything from soup to nuts.  Bene D links to Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk, who in one of his most heated posts ever, spares no words to express his disdain for Piper’s analysis:

After directly attributing these devastating, death-dealing storms to the sovereign, all-controlling God, Piper comments on what he might be trying to teach us. Despite his own warning — “We are not God’s counselors. Nor can we fathom all his judgments. That was the lesson of Job. Let us beware, therefore, of reading the hand of providence with too much certainty or specificity.” — Piper goes on to read three lessons in the storms:

  • Like Job, we should just submit and say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
  • We should heed Jesus’ words in Luke 13:4-5 and take every storm as a divine warning to repent.
  • We should not think that God’s people themselves are exempt from such judgments.

This is a pastor’s message in the immediate aftermath of a terrible disaster.

How comforting. How helpful. How sympathetic. How sensitive. How pastoral.

Not.

But then, a day later, Bene D. reports on the firing of three family members from the Crystal Cathedral/Hour of Power; a media ministry conglomerate now just a shadow of its former self. Lesser people would have waved a white flag at this point, but apparently the church and its television broadcast are soldiering on.  Bene links to the Orange County Register:

…On Sunday, Sheila Schuller Coleman is expected to give the sermon.

Meanwhile, the Hour of Power program, which once reached millions of viewers across the world, will replay previous episodes for the next few weeks while leaders “determine a new direction for the show.”

“Organizational changes affecting ministry leaders are never easy to make, especially when it involves individuals who have devoted their lives to this ministry and have served with great distinction,” John Charles, president of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries, said in a statement. “This was a very difficult decision the Crystal Cathedral Ministries board of directors prayerfully deemed was necessary in order to make a change in direction for the ‘Hour of Power’ and reverse recent declining donations and viewership.”

Five other individuals were expected to lose their jobs in the reorganization.

“Because of privacy concerns, we won’t identify them,” the spokesman wrote in an e-mail.

This is the latest shake-up for the troubled ministry. Last month, Schuller Coleman was removed as the chief executive officer and president of the Ministries and replaced by Charles, who had previously held different positions with the Cathedral.

Then, on the same day, Bene D. reports the apology (sort of) from end-of-the-world date-setter Harold Camping, with the spin emphasis on the people who delved into Bible prophecy as a result of his flawed prophetic calendar. For this, he links to the Family Radio ministry website via Strang News:

Yes, we humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing; yet though we were wrong God is still using the May 21 warning in a very mighty way. In the months following May 21 the Bible has, in some ways, come out from under the shadows and is now being discussed by all kinds of people who never before paid any attention to the Bible.

Do you see the connection? All that’s missing is Fred Phelps and the guy who was going to burn the Qur’an, whose name we have thankfully forgotten.  

Ministry organizations and individuals who have contributed greatly to the spiritual life of many have a sell-by date, and it’s time to disappear graciously and start writing memoirs. Memoirs that can be edited by others, as opposed to media statements and blog posts which appear all too quickly.

I say this with empathy. Having already reached an age where I have been sidelined from certain activities — worship leading is apparently now a young man’s game — I know that being silenced is not easy to take. But in the case of the men and women at the center of these three stories, it’s necessary.

Time does not permit me the luxury of fleshing out this topic as fully as I would like, but perhaps some of you can continue in the meta. Meanwhile, I want to add one extra story.  James Alexander Langteaux is a former senior producer for The 700 Club, who is the author of the forthcoming (April) book, “Gay Conversations with God – Straight Talk on Fanatics, Fags and the God who Loves Us All.  In an interview with Phil Shepherd at Huffington Post, he’s asked how he thinks his former boss, Pat Robertson will react when he comes out of the closet in a major way:

“…Well, after the uproar that resulted from Pat’s comments of dementia being grounds for abandonment in a marriage union, I’m not sure that really matters much…”

In other words, in Langteaux’s eyes, Robertson has already lost his voice.

Joining the dots in Bene Diction’s stories, John Piper, the Crystal Cathedral and Family Radio have lost their voices, too. 

Just as today’s younger communicators need to earn the right to be heard, the elder statesmen of the Christian church need to see that the ‘wisdom of age’ is not a respect automatically granted. Rather, it needs to be proven on a regular basis by statements that continually reflect that the person in question is wise.

In the end, the only expiry dates on credibility in ministry life are the ones we create for ourselves.

December 1, 2011

Vatican Approves Crystal Cathedral Purchase

This is the Roman Catholic Church in Garden Grove which would effectively be swapping properties with the Crystal Cathedral over the next three years. More details, interior picture — click here.

The Pope has rubber-stamped the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County’s purchase of the bankrupt Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California.  Again, the OC Register leads the way with coverage of this story:

GARDEN GROVE – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange received the necessary approval this week from the Vatican to proceed with its purchase of the Crystal Cathedral at $57.5 million, officials said Wednesday.

The Pope’s approval, which came on Monday, is the last hurdle the diocese had to clear before sealing the deal, said Monsignor Douglas Cook, the diocese’s Canon Law expert and rector of Holy Family Cathedral in Orange.

The Vatican’s order giving its blessing to the diocese is known as a “nihil obstat” in Latin, which means “nothing stands in the way.”…

Monsignor Cook said the process to get the Vatican’s approval was long and complex. The cathedral’s purchase had to be voted on by two advisory committees under the Bishop of Orange.

“They voted on it several times because the price kept changing,” he said.

The diocese then sent over a thick dossier detailing its financial plan to purchase the Crystal Cathedral among other things, Cook said.

“The Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy Office then came back to us with some questions they had,” he said. “We sent the answers and shortly thereafter, received the approval.”

Cook said these procedures are in place to make sure there are checks and balances at all levels.

“The Vatican’s role is basically to make sure that we have thought of everything – the rationale and the financial plan – before we undertake something of this magnitude,” he said…

Continue reading at OC Register

Photo: JOSHUA SUDOCK, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

November 22, 2011

A Catholic Perspective on the Crystal Cathedral Sale

Filed under: Church, current events — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:06 am

I keep thinking we’re done with this story for a season, but it keeps exploding out in a variety of different dimensions, and we haven’t even begun to consider the importance of churches exercising fiscal responsibility. That’s the lesson that must not be missed here.

However, in reviewing the various online sources on the story, I came across Southfield, Michigan’s Kathy Schiffer, who reminded me that I need to consider that the Catholic perspective on the story might be refreshingly different.  In an article boldly titled, Crystal Cathedral: Was The Holy Spirit The Highest Bidder? she offers this insight about 3/4ths of the way in; but you really need to read the whole article.

The Schuller family’s friendly relationship with the Catholic Church

Robert H. Schuller spoke often about how he was influenced by the great Gothic cathedrals of Europe.  Unable to find a similar worship space in Orange County, California, he set out to build one—and he enlisted the help of modernist architect Philip Johnson to reinterpret the strong vertical elements of Catholic cathedrals utilizing modern materials such as glass.

Schuller was always respectful of the Catholic Church, saying that the Roman Catholic Church is “the mother church.”  He professed, “You are the church that has been here since the Resurrection, and you will be here 100 years from now.”

On several occasions, Schuller invited Bishop Fulton J. Sheen to speak at his church.  A bronze statue of Bishop Sheen stands at the Crystal Cathedral, commemorating his visit and serving as a reminder of Schuller’s friendly respect.  Roman Catholic theologian Henry Nouwen also preached from their pulpit.

There is a story of how Bishop Sheen, after speaking at the Crystal Cathedral, was being led through a roped-off passageway by Robert Schuller, as devoted fans reached out to touch him.  As he passed this area heading toward the car, one elderly woman handed him a note, which he tucked into his pocket.  Once inside the car, the bishop opened and read the note and asked Schuller, “Do you know where this trailer park is?”  Schuller did know; and he agreed to take Bishop Sheen to the trailer park, just a few miles away, before they ate lunch.  Once there, Bishop Sheen knocked at the door of one trailer, where the elderly woman received him with a shocked expression.  After a few minutes he came out again, returned to the car, and said, “Now she’s ready for living—in this life and the next.”  I suppose he had heard the woman’s confession.

After Robert H. Schuller’s 1,000th broadcast of the “Hour of Power,” leaders from many faiths stepped up to congratulate him.  One of the congratulatory messages was from Mother Teresa.

Schuller himself gave his blessing to the sale.  “I could not abide the thought,” the 85-year-old minister wrote in a letter to the court, “that Chapman might someday use the cathedral for nonreligious purposes.”  Catholic leaders had promised that they would “take on your calling of proclaiming Christ’s message to humanity” and “care for the campus like the treasure it is.”

~Kathy Schiffer

November 18, 2011

Stop The Presses! Crystal Cathedral Now Favors Catholic Bid

Filed under: current events — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:44 am

FOR THE MOST RECENT UPDATE ON THIS STORY, as of FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18th, 2011, CLICK HERE

Until yesterday, it looked like Chapman University was the Crystal Cathedral board’s favored suitor.  But as the Thursday deadline appeared, the board told the judge it preferred the offer from the Orange County diocese of the Roman Catholic Church.

An Associated Press story at AP’s own website notes:

Some Crystal Cathedral members fear their church will dwindle if the 40-acre grounds are sold to the diocese and they must move to a new location. They noted that congregants emptied their pockets to help build the elaborate building and many planned to be buried in the nearby cemetery.

Others fear the broadcast that funds 70 percent of the church’s revenue will lose viewers if moved to a different, less striking setting.

“That’s our church — the Crystal Cathedral. We bought and paid for it,” said Bob Canfield, a 73-year-old general contractor who joined the church five years ago. “We feel like we’ve been raped of our ministry.”

For many congregants at the Crystal Cathedral, the church building designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson and made up of 10,000 panes of glass has become intertwined with the church’s identity.

“They’re no different than any other business. They have to market themselves, and they have a particular branding and they’ve put all their eggs in that basket,” said Richard Flory, director of research at University of Southern California’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture. “That would be a difficult transition for them to make.”

…continue reading here…

A version of the same story by the same author, Amy Taxin,  in, of all places, The Taiwan News notes the logistics of the purchase would involve a building ‘swap:’

Chapman’s $59 million bid includes provisions for the church to continue using Crystal Cathedral and oversee the cemetery while ceding other buildings to the university to expand its health sciences offerings and possibly start a medical school.

Not so under the diocese’s $57.5 million offer to turn the sanctuary with seating capacity for 3,000 into a long-awaited countywide cathedral and offer Crystal Cathedral congregants use of a smaller Catholic church up the street.

The diocese has tried to assuage congregants’ concerns by preserving a chapel on campus for interfaith use and insisting they will honor existing contracts for cemetery plots regardless of a person’s religious affiliation. The glass-spired Crystal Cathedral _ which lets worshipers see the sky and palm trees through the walls and ceiling of the church _ would remain intact but undergo interior renovations to create a central altar and baptismal font and other structures to serve Catholics’ needs.

“We have promised to maintain the integrity of that beautiful piece of architecture,” said Maria Rullo Schinderle, general counsel for the diocese.

In exchange, Crystal Cathedral congregants could move to the 1,200-seat St. Callistus Catholic church less than a mile away _ a cream-colored sanctuary lined with wooden pews and adorned with a stained glass window on the ceiling.

Parishioners at St. Callistus, who would be asked to make the switch, said they could worship anywhere _ in an enormous sanctuary or tiny room.

“My faith does not depend on a building,” said Rosemary Diliberto, 84, on her way to morning Mass at the ethnically diverse church dotted with signs in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. “God is God, wherever we go.”

…continue reading here…

The story continues…

Update:  …and in the end, the judge awarded the sale to the Roman Catholic diocese.  Details available at this Orange County Register story from 7:00 AM PST, Friday.  As the story continues to develop, there is other news concerning the Cathedral’s denominational covering, The Reformed Church of America, first noted here in a reader comment below.  More on that here in a separate post.

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