Thinking Out Loud

July 26, 2010

As the Celebrity Pages Turn

Filed under: issues, media — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:43 am

Well maybe. Maybe not.

On the last day of our vacation, the hotel where we were staying just outside of Ottawa offered me a free copy of The Saturday [Toronto] Star.   As is my habit, I tucked it away to read in detail when we got back home, which I did late that night.

On page three was the story of Benny Hinn and Paula White with which many of you are already familiar; though the picture — showing them holding hands — made the story almost unnecessary.  [Though the article tried to press the Toronto angle of Benny’s early ministry in the area, it was inaccurate on a few points.]

This morning, commuters boarded mass transit trains in many North American cities and picked up one of the many commuter newspapers available free.   Chances are, up to 20% of the page count was taken by celebrity news.    This is what people want to read about.    The program Entertainment Tonight once was an interesting course in entertainment media, the visual “how it’s done” manual on all things related to movies, music, television, and stage.   Instead, it gave birth to a host of television programs which try to feed the insatiable desire for more knowledge of who is bedding down with whom.

Most of the time however, the news originates in Hollywood, not the Bible Belt.   The Benny and Paula story — they were seen together on the streets of Rome —  really looked no different than countless others, but we need to recognize that on some level, both of them are part of the superstar culture.

How did we get there?

For starters, here are some obvious reasons:

  • the rise of mega-churches, which suddenly made certain pastors significant nationally, and others less so;
  • the established past history of certain pastors or evangelists with respect to moral failure and the media feeding frenzy that these events are now certain to bring;
  • the outrageously excessive income and/or lifestyle of certain Christian “stars;”
  • the desire of certain Christian authors and artists to see their books or music “cross over” into the mainstream market; and,
  • our obsession with celebrity.

We created this mess ourselves, somewhat.  We conformed to the world.   We wanted our alternative Christian culture to be just as glitzy as theirs and we worshiped at the feet of anybody with a big church, a TV show or a best-selling book or CD.

Of course, both parties have issued denials that anything untoward is happening.   Is it just me, or are both denials the work of the same copywriter?

A great day for Movie-of-the-Week screenwriters and producers.

A sad day for the Kingdom of God.

My advice to Benny and/or Paula?  It’s peaked.  The season is over.   Shut it down.   All of it.   The television ministry.   The crusades.   The books.   Pay the staff a decent severance.   The TV contracts you can’t get out of, give the airtime to another ministry.    The arena contracts you can’t get out of, give to another [type of] evangelist, or even a Christian band.   Retire somewhere nobody can find you.

And Benny, take the Nehru jackets to a local thrift shop.

Related post on this blog:  My Day With Tiger Woods and Benny Hinn

Best place to follow this story (if you must):  The other “Benny;” the blog, Bene Diction Blogs On

Picture:  National Enquirer article.  Who else?

April 3, 2010

Crystal Cathedral: Is This The End?

FOR THE MOST RECENT UPDATE — THE RESIGNATION OF SHEILA COLEMAN, as of THURSDAY, MARCH 15th, 2012, CLICK HERE

FOR THE STORY REGARDING THE SALE OF THE CATHEDRAL, as of FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18th, 2011, CLICK HERE

Google can’t keep up with this continually evolving story, and keeps sending people to this 22-month old post.  For the full saga, use the search bar in the upper right hand corner of this blog and type “Crystal Cathedral” and hit “enter” and all the items related will appear in REVERSE chronological order (newest to oldest).

DID GOOGLE SEND YOU HERE? GOOGLE CAN’T KEEP UP WITH THE UPDATES ON THIS STORY SO IT SENDS EVERYONE HERE.  FOR MORE CURRENT INFORMATION TRY THESE UPDATES:

UPDATE (NOVEMBER 18, 2011) — In the end, the CC board switches horses in midstream and back the Roman Catholic bid, to which the judge agrees.  Confused?  We were, and so were the church members.  See top of this item (above the picture) for link.

UPDATE (OCTOBER 28, 2011) — The property is sold to Chapman University.  The church continues to use the cathedral on Sundays, and hopes some day to buy it back.  Update to the update:  Two weeks later, that’s not how the story ended!!  (See above)

UPDATE (JULY 9, 2011) — The story on the potential purchase by the local Roman Catholic diocese is located here

UPDATE (JULY 5, 2011) — For those of you being directed here by a search engine, the recent story on Robert H. Schuller being removed from the board is located here.

UPDATE (MAY 28, 2011) — For those of you directed here looking for the story of the sale of the property, that story is located here.

UPDATE (OCTOBER 20, 2010) — For those of you being referred here by online searches, the story on the chapter 11 filing is located here.


The money just isn’t there.

The week started out almost humorously with the suppliers of the camels, sheep and goats (oh my!) for the Crystal Cathedral’s annual Christmas production looking for the church to settle a bill for around $56,000 US.

The Orange County Register, which keeps close tabs on events at the large glass church reported earlier this week:

Kristina Oliver, who owns Oliver Livestock Co. in Hemet, says the cathedral owes her more than $56,000. For 29 years, her family has been supplying the pageants with live animals – camels, goats, sheep, horses and donkeys – a much-touted feature of the Glory pageants.

Oliver sent a letter to Sheila Schuller Coleman, founder Robert H. Schuller’s daughter, who is now the head of Crystal Cathedral Ministries. In the letter, she talked about her daughters ages 3 and 1, her husband who has been battling cancer and the danger of her losing their home if she doesn’t receive the payment.

“I’ve been completely ignored without so much as a courtesy of a response or explanation,” Oliver said. “I understand the church has been hurting for cash…but the way I’ve been treated, with no courtesy or professionalism, is unacceptable.”

But like a snowball rolling downhill, the story — and the amount of indebtedness — kept growing as the week went on, with the San Jose Mercury News reporting this on Thursday:

Three businesses have sued the Crystal Cathedral megachurch for more than $2 million combined in unpaid bills.

The church has a $55 million budget deficit and recently conducted layoffs, sold church property and reduced the number of TV stations airing the “Hour of Power” telecast.

From concerns of $56,000 on Monday to $2 million by Thursday.

Is it possible that it’s all over?  And what would a trustee or receiver do with a large glass church?   The church campus, in Garden Grove, California is on a scale that makes this story reminiscent of the collapse of Heritage Village in Charlotte a decade ago.    That was the property belonging to Jim Bakker and the PTL Club, now belonging to Rick Joyner’s Morningstar Ministries and the current home of former Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley.

Right now the church needs a savior — in both senses of that word.   It needs someone to walk onto the stage who can rescue the facility and the ministry from financial demise.   Is such a person out there?

It’s ironic that it could end this way; that this could be Robert H. Schuller’s legacy.   Google his name and you find countless news stories, testimonials and bloggers quoting his pithy sayings as though they were the Word of God itself.    Perhaps building his ministry on God’s sayings — the Bible — might have brought a better ending.

From this perspective, the possibility-thinking church is running out of possibilities.

See updates above for links to more recent information, including the two most recent ones above the title.

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