05 July 2011

PTL--for those "in the know"

Just sit anywhere, really.

Sadly, I read in the news today that the Reverend Robert Schuller was ousted from the Crystal Cathedral.

("Ousted from the Crystal Cathedral." It's like something out of Parzival or The Inferno.)

The Crystal Cathedral, for those not in the know about televangelism, was one of the first "megachurches" in America. It was founded in 1980 by the Reverend Schuller for his Protestant ministry in Orange County, California—yep,"The OC"!

The Crystal Cathedral is nothing to sneeze at (bless you!), even in the realm of cathedrals. It. Is. Big.

There above is the sanctuary. Not what I picture when I think "sanctuary"; there's just something about a capacity of 3000 that doesn't feel "sanct."  There below is the pipe organ. Now if you just imagine the Reverend Schuller standing down there in front, teeny tiny, then you know how you'd feel from where you were sitting. You would feel Teeny Tiny, too.

See the pipes? Big.

Here's the Reverend Schuller now, all teeny tiny for us,
so that we may better imagine him standing down in front,
from where we are sitting.

The Reverend Schuller is a kindly man, I am certain. I first got to know his ministry when I was 10. That was the first year the Hour of Power aired. The Hour of Power is one of the longest running TV series in history. It consists of personal testimony about the Power of God, and is hosted by the Reverend Schuller, for an Hour. It is still running today. 20 million viewers tune in each week. Your mouth is hanging open, isn't it?

The Reverend Schuller is getting along in age now. 85 or thereabouts. For the last few years, his daughters and the board of directors have sunk the ministry into bankruptcy and slowly removed Father from the more active aspects of the church. I guess this last move was the final blow.

Now, how is it that I am in the know? Why do I care? I wouldn't be caught dead joining a church. Yet the fall of the Reverend Schuller has touched me. First this, from FOXNews today:

[The Schuller daughters] required choir members to sign a covenant acknowledging Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and their belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. The older Schuller publicly lashed out at the contract saying everyone is welcome in the church. Phillip Johnson, the architect who constructed the cathedral's iconic glass sanctuary for Schuller, was an openly gay man.

My soft spot for the Reverend Schuller is not just about his being on "our side" more than one might expect. When I was 10 and the Hour of Power came on television in my Nana's sitting room, it opened the door to the bizarre assortment of characters populating the television world, delivered faithfully every day to the sitting rooms of all my family and friends. You and your family and friends may have been introduced to different characters in the television world; we only got one channel back then. There weren't even a lot of real people in my world yet, and these televangelists were an awful lot of fun. Plus, God loved me--they told me all the time.

I remember Jim Bakker, before the fall. (See "Eyes of Tammy Faye," on Hulu.) I can look back and see Jerry Falwell's jowls filling the screen at a time when, gratefully, I had no idea what he would come to represent in my life. Best of all, I can see and hear and feel Kathryn Kuhlman, faith healer, when her voice would vibrate the television set with  her trademark I bee-leeve in meer-a-cles! I still can't help but shiver.

I promise you everything that you will not regret watching this video.
But to reduce the time commitment, I recommend starting at 2:38. God loves you.


  1. Wow, that lady is a little frightening. I don't know, I think that much excitement about anything is a little scary. Is there something about the way she talks that sounds a little disingenuous?

  2. "DISINGENUOUS??" Kathryn Kuhlman was completely genuous... er, ingenuous...? Anyway, she MEANT it.

    It's her peculiar speech patterns that I can never get over. The placement of pauses, the slow delivery of some words and phrases, like meer-acles, followed by the rapiddeliveryofothers, like holyspirit.

    I could watch her all day. And have.

  3. It's her speech patterns that I'm talking about. They sound so practiced.

  4. What!? I never thought that! Are you trying to say she was, like, putting on a show or something??...

    Th-the faith healing was real, though, right??