Friday, November 18, 2011

The Crystal Cathedral, Cathedrals, and the Diocese of Orange

Depending on your point of view, this is good news, bad news, or completely irrelevant. I'm rather pleased about the development, myself:
"An [!] bankruptcy judge on Nov. 17 ruled in favor of the Diocese of Orange's $57.5 million offer for the iconic Crystal Cathedral over a bid from Chapman University.

"Bishop Tod D. Brown vowed on Thursday that the diocese will 'protect this wonderful structure as a place of worship and will soon provide our Catholic community with a new cathedral, pastoral center, parish school and more.'

"The Crystal Cathedral will meet the needs of the 1.2 million Catholics in Orange County, the 10th largest diocese in the nation...."
I've got a personal, sentimental, attachment to the Crystal Cathedral.

Local Favorites and Hidden Treasures, Anaheim/Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau
(Adapted from Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau, used w/o permission)

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

I'm a convert to Catholicism. My parents belonged to a nice, mainstream, Protestant denomination: and as they found it harder to get out of the house, they enjoyed Reverend Robert H. Schuller's telecasts from the Crystal Cathedral.

I've watched the programs: and enjoyed them, too. Schuller's brand of Christianity wasn't Catholic: but it was comforting.

I also like the architecture of the Crystal Cathedral. More about that in a bit.

Church, Satellite Campus, Cathedral

Chapman University wanted to buy the Crystal Cathedral property, and use it as a satellite campus. I have nothing against Champan U., but a satellite campus isn't a church. I think that, even with the best intentions, Chapman would have had a hard time keeping the appearance of the Crystal Cathedral: while converting the area into a functional campus.

Back to that CNA/EWTN News article:
"...Bishop Brown expressed sympathy for cathedral founder pastor Robert H. Schuller who filed for bankruptcy last October, after creditors sued for payment.

" 'We sincerely regret the difficult circumstances Dr. Schuller and his ministry have encountered,' the bishop noted. 'Despite these wonderful results, we are nonetheless saddened by the events that led us to today's award and offer our respect to Dr. Schuller and his ministry.'

"Under the terms of agreement, the bishop said that occupancy of the building 'will not be immediate' and that the Crystal Cathedral Ministries can continue to use the church and other campus structures for a period of up to three years...."
Maybe three years sounds like a long time. I'm glad I don't have the job of transferring Crystal Cathedral Ministries to another site. That's going to be a big job.

'It Doesn't Look Like a Church'

Although I haven't run into complaints about Crystal Cathedral not looking like a "real church," much less a cathedral, my guess is that at least a few folks are having fits over the metal-and-glass structure being used as a place of worship.

MOSSOT, Saint-Denis - Basilique - Choeur, used w/o permissionThe high end of church architecture for quite a few centuries were the great cathedrals of northwestern Europe. Folks seem to have forgotten how ugly those newfangled "Gothic" structures looked to the "civilized" folks in southern Europe.1 I've been over that before.

I suspect that, eight centuries from now, when 'everybody knows' that churches 'always' were shining piles of glass and metal, some folks will be shocked and horrified at whatever new wrinkle architects and engineers are developing.

Economics and Liturgical Requirements

The Diocese of Orange needs a new place for worship, because it's growing. The Crystal Cathedral was very attractive, since it is large enough: and even with their increased bid, will cost about half as much as they'd have spent on a built-from-scratch cathedral.

They're still going to have to make a few changes. Which doesn't mean hauling in tons of stone to make the Crystal Cathedral look like it was built with state-of-the-art late medieval technology:
"...The liturgist for the Orange diocese, Monsignor Arthur Holquin, said July 26 that several changes will need to take place in order for the Crystal Cathedral to become a Catholic worship space.

"Along with a central altar, a tabernacle and a baptismal font, the building would need a 'cathedra' or bishop's chair. While renovations are needed to the building, 'not much deconstruction would be required and the iconic personality of the original architecture and design would, for the most part, be retained,' he said."
I'm looking forward to see what they do with the place.

More (and less) related posts:
In the news:

1 See:
  • "Gothic Art And Architecture"
    Andrew Henry Robert Martindale, Professor of Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich, England, 1974–95


Brigid said...

Big gap after this heading: "Economics and Liturgical Requirements"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


*Really* big gap! Thanks: found and fixed.

Anonymous said...

I love the Crystal Cathedral and I'm glad to see that it will continue to be a place of Christian worship.

Personally I think the transfer will happen a lot sooner than three years. I don't think the ministry is going to want to pay six figure a month rent for that long. I don't know how long the renovations will take, but I think we could see a Mass there within two years.

Brian Gill said...

Anonymous of November 23, 2011,

I hadn't thought of the rent/recurring expenses aspect of the transfer. That could speed up the process.

It's nice, by the way, to hear a positive response to the Crystal Cathedral's prospects.

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