Friday, July 8, 2011

The Diocese of Orange and the Crystal Cathedral: My Take

The Diocese of Orange serves about 1,200,000 Catholics.

Plans for building a 2,500-seat cathedral in Santa Ana have been around for more than a decade. The diocese hired an architect, and that's about it. I'm not surprised or shocked that the diocese hasn't gone ahead and gotten the thing built already - or that they're even thinking about spending money on a building project.1

For Sale - One House of Worship, Used

Crystal Cathedral Ministries has a 3,000-seat place of worship - the Crystal Cathedral. The organization Robert H. Schuller started is - not in the best shape, financially. I've read a couple versions of what's 'really' happening in the news: some of which may be somewhat close to accurate in spots.

A common thread that seems to be accurate is that for whatever reason - probably financial - the Crystal Cathedral may be up for sale.2

Robert H. Schuller, the Hour of Power, and My Parents

I've got a soft spot in my head for Robert H. Schuller: largely because his televised Hour Of Power brought a measure of church participation to my parents in their later years. Crystal Cathedral Ministries isn't Catholic, but Robert H. Schuller's "message of hope" was reasonable - "To be inspired and motivated through possibility thinking to grow in a loving relationship with Jesus Christ to be the persons God dreams, desires, and designed us to be."

As I've said before, the colorful screwballs who make the news are not representative of most Christians in America: Catholic or otherwise. (June 23, 2011)3

Some Televangelists, Labels, and Getting a Grip

I've seen Robert H. Schuller described as a "televangelist." I suppose that could be accurate. His actions were "evangelical," at least in the sense of being "marked by ardent or zealous enthusiasm for a cause." (Princeton's WordNet) And his weekly "Hour of Power" certainly made him a television personality of sorts.

I could use the same argument to call Fulton Sheen a televangelist.

However, using the same term to describe folks like Robert H. Schuller and Fulton Sheen: and Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart might be a little misleading. I've discussed stereotypes and labels before.4

Why the Crystal Cathedral?

Robert H. Schuller's outfit isn't Catholic - and the Crystal Cathedral, despite the name, isn't a Catholic church. So why is the Diocese of Orange interested in buying it?

Maybe because it looks cool?

Well, maybe: but I think there's more going on than appreciation for architecture.

(Adapted from Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau, used w/o permission)

(Adapted from Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau, used w/o permission)

Here's what the Diocese of Orange says, about why they're placing a bid for the Crystal Cathedral:
"...'While we continue to develop plans for a cathedral in Santa Ana, it is prudent to evaluate the opportunity to engage in the pending auction of this property and to mitigate the chance that it cease to function as a place of worship, if acquired by others,' Bishop Tod D. Brown said on Tuesday.

"The Crystal Cathedral - an architectural landmark made with over 10,000 panes of glass and designed by the late Philip Johnson – would be an instant solution to the diocese's building needs and would cost roughly half the $100 million price tag for the planned cathedral....

"...'If the Diocese of Orange can prevent the loss of this important Christian Ministry and what the Crystal Cathedral has represented to so many for so long – and meet its own priorities for a new cathedral, we have a duty to at least review the options.'

"At the same time, Bishop Brown cautioned that no official plans have been made."
Okay, that seems to make sense: buying the already-built Crystal Cathedral would get the Diocese of Orange 500 more seats, and cost around $50,000,000 less, than building something from scratch.

Plus, doing so would keep a place that's been an important place of worship for quite a few folks from becoming something like a shopping mall or - movie theater? With 10,000 panes of glass?? Art gallery, maybe. Or a museum of inner tubes and tire irons.

'But - It Doesn't Look Like a Church?!'

The Crystal Cathedral doesn't look like the houses of worship built in Europe, about eight centuries ago - or the churches built in Rome eight centuries before that. Eight centuries from now, the Crystal Cathedral may be what churches are 'really' supposed to look like - not at all like those 'awful, ugly, new things.'

I've written about change before. And that's another topic.

Not-entirely-unrelated posts:
In the news:
A tip of the hat to thomaspringle, on Twitter, for the heads-up on the Diocese of Orange / Crystal Cathedral connection.

1 Greed isn't a good idea. At all.
"The tenth commandment forbids greed and the desire to amass earthly goods without limit. It forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power. It also forbids the desire to commit injustice by harming our neighbor in his temporal goods:
"When the Law says, 'You shall not covet,' these words mean that we should banish our desires for whatever does not belong to us. Our thirst for another's goods is immense, infinite, never quenched. Thus it is written: 'He who loves money never has money enough.'321"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2536)
Making an idol of money - that's a really bad idea. (Catechism, 2113, 2424)

About building a new cathedral? We're commanded to worship God. (Catechism, 2083-2094) And - no surprise to someone who's been around people for decades - the setting for worship matters. (Catechism, 1183, 1184, 1186)

By the way: watching Mass on television isn't just like being there. Which has to do with the Eucharist. (Catechism, 1322-1405; summarized, 1406-1419)

2 Excerpt from today's news:
"The Diocese of Orange says it is potentially interested in buying a 3,000-seat glass church in Southern California that faces bankruptcy.

"The diocese announced on July 7 that it's currently looking for a building to meet the needs of the1.2 million Catholics in Orange County, the 11th largest diocese in the nation.

"Although it's been planning for over 10 years to build a new, 2,500-seat cathedral in Santa Ana, the diocese has only hired an architect for the project and is now considering converting the bankrupt church in Garden Grove into a Catholic cathedral.

" 'While we continue to develop plans for a cathedral in Santa Ana, it is prudent to evaluate the opportunity to engage in the pending auction of this property and to mitigate the chance that it cease to function as a place of worship, if acquired by others,' Bishop Tod D. Brown said on Tuesday.

"The Crystal Cathedral - an architectural landmark made with over 10,000 panes of glass and designed by the late Philip Johnson – would be an instant solution to the diocese's building needs and would cost roughly half the $100 million price tag for the planned cathedral...."
3 I'm a convert to Catholicism. As I've explained -
"...The area I grew up in was virulently anti-Catholic. My parents weren't - but I couldn't help but pick up the local culture's message about the Whore of Babylon. ... Lurid rants about the evils of the Catholic Church got me curious: ..."
(Curiosity and This Catholic, in "Why I Became a Catholic ")
I'm savvy enough - and have lived in enough areas - to realize that loud soreheads aren't necessarily typical. They're just hard to ignore. Or, sometimes, avoid. And that's another topic.

4 My take on stereotypes and labels:


Brigid said...

Wrong consonant: "soft spot in my heard for Robert"

Finding?? "about why they're finding about placing a bid"

Stutter: "Crystal Cathedral would get the Diocese of Orange would get them 500 more seats"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Oh, boy: I thought I'd cleaned this up.

Fixed, and thanks!

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