Thinking Out Loud

May 5, 2012

Crystal Cathedral: Cast of Characters

This is St. Callistus Catholic Church, part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, which just bought the Crystal Cathedral, and a possible future home for the present Crystalites. Confused? I hoped you would be; that’s why you really need to read this article

Apparently some of you are bewildered, as you have every right to be; so here, as a public service, is your guide to who’s who in the ongoing story; and a refresher for those of you who know.

[Note: Some of this may be less than reliable.]

Robert H. in happier times

Robert H. Schuller is the founder of Garden Grove Community Church which later became better known as The Crystal Cathedral.  His self help messages are known for short rhyming catch-phrases like, “Inch by inch, anything’s a cinch;” “It takes guts to get out of the ruts;” and “If it bleeds it leads.” (Maybe not the last one.)  He is married to Arvella, whose contribution to Hour of Power includes rewriting classic hymns so as to contain less emphasis on the blood of Jesus and more emphasis on possibility thinking. (“What can wash away my sins? Elbow grease and much detergent…”)  Robert H. is no longer active in ministry; we’re not sure what he does on Sunday mornings currently, but it may involve sitting at home and watching Joel Osteen.

Hour of Power is the broadcast ministry of the church.  These days, it is actually the Half-Hour of Power. TV stations carrying the program now require prepayment, not unlike self-serve gas stations which after midnight want to run your MasterCard first.

The Crystal Cathedral itself was recently sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.  That’s Orange as in Orange County, California; not a reference to the Orange Lodge, which is decisively Protestant. “Now the building will be a true cathedral;” people were heard to say. How dare Protestants use the word “cathedral” when it isn’t.  Apparently in order to use the word, there must be a bishop’s chair, or bishop’s throne.  The furniture at the big glass church on Lewis Street was apparently lacking as the money for chairs was spent on the fountain.  Over the last few weeks, the church has experienced a bit of revival in terms of attendance; which is rather unfortunate timing.

Robert A. Schuller, sometimes referred to as Robert Anthony is the son of Arvella and Robert H. He is married to Donna, who sometimes reads this blog, so we’re going to tread carefully with this paragraph. In 2009, after unceremoniously leaving the Crystal Cathedral in a controversy involving his rather annoying habit of preaching from the Bible, he became chair of Comstar, a media company that has been slowly buying other media companies including FamilyNet and American Life TV, the latter now known as YouToo (a name often easily confused with that other popular site, Facebook) which combines elements broadcast television with video uploading. (Correction: YouToo is actually always confused with Pinterest.) Last week, for the first time in years, Robert A. showed up at Crystal Cathedral after getting lost on the freeway while heading for Calvary Chapel.

A room at the Anaheim Marriott. The ballroom is believed to be much larger.

Sheila Coleman Schuller is the eldest daughter of Robert H. and Arvella.  (They have three other daughters.) She often gets confused with pop singer Sheila E. The former early childhood education specialist became lead pastor of the Crystal Cathedral, proving that you really don’t need much in the way of theological training to pastor a megachurch. (See yesterday’s post here.) Last week, nearly 100 people showed up to hear her preach at her new venture, Hope Center of Christ, or as the cool people say, Hope Center OC; which meets downstairs at the Panda House Restaurant on Harbor Blvd.  Okay, just kidding, they really meet in the Crystal (there’s that word again) Ballroom of the Marriott Suites Hotel.

Disneyland is a theme park located just blocks away in Anaheim, California.  It has no bearing on this article.

Bobby Schuller is actually Bobby V. Schuller, with the V. for Vernon, son of Robert A. and Donna.  Continuing the family tradition, he has a Masters in Divinity from Fuller and pastors Tree of Life, sometimes referred to, as in this blog, as The Gathering, where you can watch sermons online.  He is our last hope. (I don’t know what that means, I just thought the sentence fit in well at that point.)  He is also associated with The St. Patrick Project, whose mission is thus described at this page: “We care for the homeless, mentor kids, help feed the hungry, and support the arts. We encourage hope.”  He showed up at big glass church last week sporting a new haircut.

Angie Schuller Wyatt is also important to this story, but this has taken far more time than I had expected.

Anthony Schuller, son of Robert A. has not posted anything to his blog since February, 2010, and is believed have changed his last name to Zaguenni. He is pursuing a career in international missions so he can get far, far away from Orange County. In the meantime, you might find him catching some rays at Laguna Beach.

Well, I hope that helped you on this Saturday morning as much as it helped me stay away from garage sales, swap meets and flea markets.  If you have any questions, check with the Orange County Register, they have all the answers.


Important trivia to know:  American Life TV was once owned by the Unification Church, aka The Moonies.  source As Dave Barry says, I am not making this up.

Even more important: The five manual organ at the big glass church, with its 16,061 pipes, is the largest in the world. source  If you push the button labeled “Doublette 2′ ” the organ starts playing the song Never Gonna Give You Up with baroque accompaniment.

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

The Silver is the New Black Theme Blog at WordPress.com.