The “Tod Mahal”, also known as the USD 57m former Crystal Cathedral, is now going to be renamed as “Christ Cathedral”.
The name change is all fine, and Christ being rather well-known – at least by hearsay – even among secular journalists there is some hope the new name will catch very soon.
The “only” thing to do now is to try to transform what is clearly a monument to Protestant glitz in something at least doing its best to reflect Catholic values. I am, I must say, very curious.
In another parallel news, the Protestant community founded by Mr Schuller will,we are informed, move into a nearby…. former Catholic church, from which the TV broadcasts will take place. Again, I am curious to see how the spectacular scene of the Crystal Cathedral (fitting for a flashy Protestant outfit, but very questionable as a Catholic cathedral; unless your name is Tod, or course) will be replaced by the rather more modest appearance of a conventionally built and much smaller Catholic building. Someway, the idea of the powerful music and the cavernous voice saying “The Hour Of Brick and Mortar In Our Reduced New Premises” does not really catch my imagination.
I still have the hope in a couple of years – when we are rid of Tod – the real estate prices will catch up a bit and the new bishop will be able to sell the thing to other interested parties – like another university; or perhaps it could be converted into an office building – and use the money to build a sensible, traditional, truly brick-and-mortar edifice exuding Catholic spirituality.
First thing, though, is to wait that Bishop Tod takes the exit.
In the wake of the announcement of the Diocese of Orange obtaining the green light for the purchase of the Crystal Cathedral, two elements appear that might, one way or the other, result in the building not becoming the next Cathedral of the Orange diocese.
The first element comes from a Rocco Palmo’s blog post, aptly entitled “Live from Orange: Bishop Tod’s “Hour of Power” “. Therein Palmo writes:
As Brown’s successor would inherit the move and its ramifications at the outset of his tenure, a successful offer by the diocese would likely receive considerable scrutiny in Rome, and could possibly even be scuttled by the Holy See should the acquisition be seen as unduly prejudicing the future of the diocese and the freedom of its next bishop to make his own calls.
Whilst it is not clear to me how to Diocese could persuade the sellers to wait for Rome’s green light and make of it a condition of the sale, the phrase seems to indicate that the purchase/building of a cathedral is seen as important enough to justify a direct intervention from Rome. I point out once again to the fact that the purchase is seen as economically advantageous, and the property has already been seen as eligible for alternative use. This basically means that, if the Diocese decides to backpedal – or the Vatican decides to force them to – the property could be sold probably without loss, and possibly at a profit.
The second element comes from another indication from the blog post:
To fund a prospective Crystal purchase, the diocese is understood to be laying the groundwork for a capital campaign. Further revenue would ostensibly come from the sale of a smaller plot long owned by the diocese for an earlier incarnation of its long-sought cathedral project.
Whilst the sale of the plot originally destined for the cathedral seems the natural solution, the new element here is that by explicitly asking for funding of the Cathedral purchase, the Diocese of Orange will in fact not be able to escape a “referendum” about the wisdom of the operation, a referendum in which the voters express their opinion by giving – or rather not giving – contributions towards the purchase. I do not doubt that it will always be possible to raise the funds in other ways if desired (this is a diocese with more than 1 million nominal faithful; a bank loan of, say, $50m with repayment in, say, 15 years would cost not more than 4-4.50 dollar a year per nominal faithful), the decision to ask the faithful for direct contributions would rapidly give a way to gauge the way the local Catholics see this purchase. I don’t need to say that, should such an appeal be done, I sugest that the faithful do not even think of donating even a penny toward the purchase of Tod Mahal.
We shall see, but the matter appears not so easily settled yet.
Dr. Schuller has been a key figure both in Orange County and around the globe for many years; I wish Crystal Cathedral Ministries success with their reorganized finances.
Tod Brown, 18 November 2011
Sad news, and actually such that I hoped I would never write. The Diocese of Orange won the bidding war with the Chapman University.
It would therefore appear that this monument to Protestant grandeur – not ugly in itself, but in my eyes unworthy as a place of Catholic worship – will become the next Cathedral of the Orange diocese.
The changes necessary have been described as follows:
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.
The entire exercise stinks to this Catholic nose of ecumenism from the window. It is as if the building was supposed to remain as Protestant as possible, perhaps thinking that this would attract Proddies, rather than motivate Catholics to worship elsewhere.
Battle lost, then?
This “Tod Mahal” might never be converted to a Catholic cathedral if the Holy Father sends the right person to substitute the departing – and good riddance – Tod Brown. I can easily imagine that if the right person is chosen, the pressure will mount to change plans and sell the real estate, perhaps even at a profit. In the end, the structure was sold rather fast, and with a marketing time of 12-24 months it should be possible to undo the damage and avert the danger. Still there is time, as the Protestant congregation so fond of “possibility thinking” receives the possibility of staying in the structure for up to three years.
When the next bishop comes, I hope the local Catholics will start their own “possibility thinking” exercise themselves.
You would have hoped that the matter of the Crystal Cathedral – an extremely Proddie place of worship, for which the Diocese of Orange made an offer, trying to get a new Cathedral on the cheap – was now put to rest. Wrong.
It would now appear that the two parties who have shown an interest in the property – the said Diocese of Orange, and Chapman University – are intentioned to start a bidding war, with the Diocese countering the University’s offer and the latter answering with an even more succulent counter-offer.
I understand the argument with the money, but I am at a loss to understand the one of practicality and speed of execution in view of the time during which the proddie community would be allowed to stay in. In three years you can build an awful lot, and this without saying that you can build it in a proper, Catholic way rather than making do with a mixture of office building and Protestant megalomania.
I continue to think that this initiative is wrong, that the building is un-Catholic, and that in the XXI century the money should be there – as it has always been the case in the past – to do things slowly but properly, rather than fastly but beastly. Our ancestors started to build Cathedrals knowing that they would never see them completed, not even half made, not even with the roof covered. They did it ad maiorem Dei gloriam, thinking of the long-term results rather than seeking their short-term satisfaction. I wonder who is wiser.
Well no, actually I don’t.
The Taj Mahony is ugly enough, and un-Catholic more than enough. California doesn’t need another mistake.
This deserves a Te Deum.
Not due to the diocese of Orange, but merely to the sellers having picked the institution offering the on the whole best package for them, the Catholics of the Orange diocese have avoided having a Cathedral that looks like the headquarter of a pharmaceutical company, or a potential venue for Holiday On Ice.
The agreement now reached allows the proddie community to continue to remain in the building, transforming the bankruptcy procedure in a certainly painful – but not as traumatic as bankruptcy and asset liquidation – sale and lease back. The community will even have the right to buy back the property once the financial situation improves. The Christian Cathedral Ministry (as I think it’s called) could really not have picked any other solution, once the offer of Chapman guaranteed to satisfy the creditors. If we look at it realistically, if there is an offer which is acceptable by the creditors and allows the Ministry to buy back the building, the Ministry will have to be seen to be willing to buy the building back irrespective of the real chances of this really happening.
Please note that the offer of the Orange County diocese would also have allowed the ministry to remain in the place for another three years, thus making the solution certainly attractive from a financial point of view, but not so terribly fast compared to the process of building a new Cathedral.
Just as an aside, I allow myself to direct your attention to the result of the “miracle campaign” started last summer and about which I had already reported. It now turns out the final result of the worldwide fund raising campaign was….. £172,775.50.
I dare say that if we want to see miracles, we will have to continue to look for them in the place provided for them by God: His One Church.
It would appear that the Great Protestant Miracle is not going to happen, and that the Holy Ghost has rather blatantly refused to make the necessary overtime.
As you will remember, the Proddie church had tried to start a massive donor/tv viewer mobilisation, thinking that people as far as Europe and Asia would have massively forked out to allow an impressive, but rather strange-looking building in the Orange County to remain in the hand of the congregation. Let us see how it worked: hmmm, I like to see the building in the opening title of the “hour of impotence”, therefore I will now send a couple of hundreds, or thousand, of dollars to Orange County to continue to see the building every week for a couple of seconds in the outside, and from the inside during the transmission. Yep, makes sense…. 😉
This absolute failure to raise an amount of money remotely sufficient to persuade the judges to hold the sale proceedings (which they duly refused to do) is also a clear warning of the trap of Protestant “you can get whatever you wish”- thinking, something at times resembling Donizetti’s Dulcamara selling his love potion more than sound Christianity. And it is highly indicative – and if you ask me, not without a message from the Holy Ghost Himself – that the prophets of “possibility thinking” be confronted with the impossibility of doing what they so vividly desire, and that the “Hour of Power” have transformed itself in long months of impotence.
Let this be a cautionary tale, and let us remember that we can’t take the Cross away from Christianity, nor can we transform it into a sort of Pollyanna amusement park.
You would think that this “name and claim”, “prosperity Gospel”, “let me hear only the good news”-people (I do not know exactly how much the Schullers fit the bill; from what I have heard I’d say: pretty much) would avoid Chapter 11 proceedings. In the end, the combined energy of thousands of people pushing toward the same end must give an incredible… hour of power.
The last initiative was even more impressive. The Boss Himself would get the church out of financial trouble. The church doesn’t need to be sold, rather there would be a huge mobilisation of faithful; people from all over the planet would run to the rescue of a piece of real estate located somewhere in Orange County, California. Why they should do that, no one really explained. Eh, the Big Boss will hear us because we can gather a lot of.. power, so just shut up and expect the miracle, will you?
From what has emerged up to now, it would appear that Heaven’s lines are pretty busy. Be it because it is August and people prefer to relax on the strand rather than sending money the other side of the planet to a place they’ll never visit, or be it because the Heavenly Operator is currently on holiday somewhere extremely nice, there seems to be no great flow of money. If there were, the Schullers would be shouting it so loud that the echo would arrive everywhere in no time.
Instead, less-than-heavenly practices begin to emerge: like for example the one that whilst the enterprise was drowning in debts, revenue would have been used to prop up the pension fund of the founder, or to unduly pay church insiders first. I wonder what the Principal thinks and, in a non unrelated matter, what the potential spenders make of this.
In the meantime, the offers continue to rise and, unfortunately, the Diocese of Orange has raised its bid to more than $53m. I begin to fear that they are really intentioned to get this deal; which, as I have written on several occasions in the past, wouldn’t be much of a good news.
But the moral I would like to draw from the entire matter is a different one.
“Prosperity Gospel” doesn’t work. It’s a clear case of post hoc, ergo propter hoc delusion. Things don’t always go well. They just aren’t supposed to. We are not supposed to be in control of our destiny, God is. Our duty is to be obedient children, hope for the good, accept the bad, and carry the Cross whenever Jesus asks us to. We must do our best, and be of good hope; but we must never naively believe that we have, when all is said and done, any real (as in: somewhat irresistible, or automatically working, or invariably drawn from our prayers) power to influence what happens to us. This is not Christianity, but New Age bollocks.
“Lifetime of Impotence” reflects our earthly travel much better than “Hour of Power”. We are at the mercy of the Lord every moment of our life. This is good so, as whilst we do our best we are constantly reminded that we are ashes, and taught that basic humility that is the first step away from hell. Certainly we must do our best, and certainly we must pray with confidence that our prayer is heard. As to what will happen, that’s not for us to decide.
The “Hour of awakening” will, very probably, soon be striking for this ecclesial community in Orange County. I hope and pray that these events will persuade several of them that to fabricate a made-to-measure Gospel for one’s own superficial enjoyment and illusion of self-empowerment doesn’t work, and that the Protestant madness of picking and choosing isolated verses of the Scriptures instead of getting the big picture from the Only Church authorised to teach it and created by Christ is a factory of self delusions, and often going to lead to a rather brutal awakening in the end.
As you can read here, the judge has given the “Crystal Cathedral” ‘s board time until the 9th August to submit an own plan to emerge from bankruptcy, and will decide on the 14th September on its viability.
As previously reported, the plan seems mainly to consist in asking for online donations from the (undoubtedly) vast following of the “church”. The “hour of power” (well…) “show” is supposed to be able to mobilise the equivalent of 100,000 people giving 500 dollar each. A “courageous” plan, would Sir Humphrey undoubtedly say.
Stranger things have happened, but after careful consideration it is still difficult to me to understand why people living in, say, the Netherlands should feel so attached to the building (not the ministry) to fork out the money those who personally attend the services do not want (or cannot) fork out. In the end, the message doesn’t depend in the least from the edifice and the ministry would certainly continue – albeit in different premises, and perhaps with a different name; perhaps even in the same premises for a while – after the sale of the asset.
Therefore, if I were a, say, typical Mr Van Hooydonk I’d be asked to pay 500 bucks, knowing that other 99,999 people are required to do the same, for the sake of the visual package of my favourite TV transmission.With the rather important consideration that Mr Schuller, the engine behind the success of the “church”, is not a young boy anymore and the organisation to whom the Dutch gentleman gives his money might, in just a few years’ time, have a completely different theological orientation.
But you see, this is always the problem with Protestants: you never know when the club’s rules are going to change.
Not so with Catholicism: a club whose rules are guaranteed never to change, with the Holy Ghost being a guarantor for that. Yes, in this club you are not entirely protected by bad board members, either; but to know that there’s a limit to the damage they can do is a great consolation.
Good luck with the “miracle”, chaps. If you succeed, at least the diocese of Orange will be spared from what remains, in my eyes, a mistake.
In a move which, to this cynical eyes, reeks of desperation, the Crystal Cathedral board is going to ask the judge overseeing the creditor’s committee to be given another 120 days to raise the $50m they couldn’t raise in the past 10 months.
Talk of positive thinking!
The business plan looks a bit like this: the money will come from somewhere; the Holy Ghost will provide for this; or we might ask 100,000 people to donate 500 dollar each, and Bob’s your uncle.
Look, 100,000 x 500 = 50,000,000. What can go wrong?!
Good luck with that, folks, and congratulations for the nerve. You’re lucky I am not the judge in question, though.
Far from me to wish a Proddie church to grow and prosper, further spreading error; but if the judge allows them further 120 days for this outlandish plan, this might persuade the Diocese of Orange to let the project be, listen to the voice of reason, abandon the idea of buying a protestant temple on the cheap and focus instead on building an authentically Catholic Cathedral. A building made as God intended, built with patience (a virtue) and faith (another virtue), and then able to serve Catholics for many centuries to come.
“When I first heard of their financial difficulties, I was distressed. Crystal Cathedral Ministries has been a valued religious resource for many, many years in Orange County and, through the Hour of Power, around the globe. Like our own Mission San Juan Capistrano, its historic and cultural links are important to Orange County. Under this plan, we hope that that ministry can continue. Dr. Schuller built up this ministry from the humble roof of a drive-in snack stand, and that constant faith in God’s providence, I believe, will sustain their community through these current trials. The Crystal Cathedral underscores the vitality of faith in our modern society and with our offer we will enable this beacon of faith to continue to influence others as an important place of worship,”
Please let us examine these words:
1. a laud of a Protestant ministry
2. the stressing that this Protestant ministry once had a worldwide audience.
3. the stressing on the fact that this creates “historical and cultural links” which are “important to Orange County”.
4. The hope that a Protestant ministry can continue.
5. A strong laud of the humble beginning etc. of a Protestant minister.
6. The stressing that this Protestant’s ministry is driven by Providence.
7. The stressing of the place as an important place of worship.
You would say that here some high-profile Protestant minister is breaking a lance for the Protestant organisation created by Mister Schuller, and seeing the glowing terms with which his Protestant ministry is portrayed and constantly exalted you would think that this chap is a staunch Protestant. He is, therefore, understandably “distressed” at hearing of their financial difficulties and tries to do what he can to allow them to continue their work. I think that you would be perfectly right, as it is undeniable that this chap does have strong Protestant feelings.
The problem here is, though, that the words above do not come from a Protestant minister, but from the bishop of Orange County, Tod Brown.
I knew that these art of liberal bishops could be rather “ecu-maniacal”, but this reaches a new level: this chap thinks that Protestants are helped by Providence! This chap could meet Martin Luther and praise him for quarters of an hour on end!
I have difficulties in thinking of any one period in the history of the Church, where a bishop not only openly praising heretics, but even considering their existence a work of Providence and claiming to help them to continue their work would not have put this bishop in extremely serious trouble. I mean here, obviously, any period in the history of the Church before Vatican II.
The heresy is among us. It is openly proclaimed under the sun, with no shame at all, from Catholic bishops. From this perspective, the bid now ongoing to buy the Crystal cathedral shows another interesting angle: not at attempt to save money, but an attempt to dilute Catholicism by buying a building that is closely identified with protestant worship, and helping a protestant ministry at the same time.
For the record, this bishop is another “enlightened” choice of the late Pope, Blessed John Paul II, the not so great.
I have written some days ago about the possibility that the Diocese of Orange would bid for the “Crystal Cathedral”.
The Diocese of Orange has now made an offer, that at USD 50m in cash would appear more attractive (for the seller) than the alternatives examined up to now.
I can only repeat here that, whilst the intention to save money is in itself laudable (though questionable; this is a glass building, not something made for the centuries), such a building does not correspond to the message a Catholic Cathedral is supposed to send. If you want to see a sensible alternative you can look here, or at the photo above.
The Diocese of Orange has 1.2 million parishioners. For many centuries, Cathedrals have been built slowly, but in the right way.
I do not doubt that cheaper alternatives were available to our ancestors; but our ancestors did not go for the cheaper alternatives. They started to build cathedrals of which they knew that no one of the initiators would see them completed, and many of their children might not see them completed, either. Every one of those beautiful buildings is a tale of patience, sacrifice, and true faith. We see them today, and we are reminded of Christ not only through the way the Cathedral is built, but through the faith of those who built it. Proposals like “we need a Cathedral now so let’s find a fast solution”, or “there’s a building available that costs half, let’s take that instead” would not have ranked very high in popularity by our ancestors.
It is an indication of the shifted priorities that nowadays the “ready-made” solution should be preferred, because it costs less per seat.
I have written about the possible purchase of the so-called Crystal Cathedral from the Diocese of Orange, and suggested that the construction ex novo of a cathedral made in the good old way would be a far preferable solution to the conversion of a protestant temple without the typical aesthetic (and spiritual) feature of a cathedral.
From the always excellent Rorate Caeli, an example of what can be done: the new Cathedral of Pristina, Serbia/Kosovo.
As you can see from the photograph, this is a very traditional, beautiful, inspiring building. It is also encouraging that it should be build in a region tormented by civil war not many years ago.
The future looks, thank God, more and more similar to our beautiful past.
It would appear that the Diocese of Orange needs a new Cathedral and plans to build one in Santa Ana. Coincidentally, the local Protestant landmark, the so-called “Crystal cathedral”, is on sale after the bankruptcy of the protestant ecclesial community previously using the structure. Apparently, the Diocese of Orange would be interested in buying.
I remember this building. When I lived in Germany, it was televised by CNBC every Sunday morning. There was a strange chap there with a beautiful white mane, dressed a bit like a Christmas tree, probably talking about Christ in some way or other. Whilst the building is, in its way, a rather impressive piece of real estate, I struggle to see the reason why the Diocese of Orange should attempt to buy it. My reasons are as follows:
1) Beautiful as this building now appears, it will get old. Glass does get old. Not in such an ugly way as concrete, nor in such a fast one, but it always does. A traditionally built Cathedral, on the other hand, will beautifully resist the passing fashions and the whims of men. If I were the Bishop, I would go for something that will look good in centuries to come, not something that looks good, or has some kind of notoriety, now.
2) A Cathedral should be, if you ask me, more than a functional building; more even than an aesthetic exercise; it should be a statement of Christian spirituality. The way they were made was traditionally consistent with the message they sent. They were, so to speak, talking stones, and this is the way a cathedral should be. It follows that even the most spectacular of buildings must be considered inadequate, if it doesn’t comply with these requirements. The Crystal cathedral clearly doesn’t. It is beautiful, but it is beautiful in the way the headquarter of a pharmaceutical company can be beautiful; the presence of a tall bell tower doesn’t change the general impression of the complex as a big glass box.
3) Bishop Brown seems very interested in stressing the fact that the place should be preserved as a place of Christian worship. I fail to see the reason why. Even Catholic churches are deconsecrated all the time, and the idea that a Protestant gathering place should henceforward be used for other uses shouldn’t really bother anyone. Besides, there will be one Cathedral in both cases: whether the place of (Catholic) worship is in Garden Grove or in nearby Santa Ana, the number of places of Christian worship will be exactly the same, with no loss and no gain.
In my eyes, every time that the possibility (and the money) are there to build a new Cathedral, things should be made as our ancestors used to do them: properly and with the centuries in sight. The recycling of a modern, “glass and iron” building does not fulfil, if you ask me, either requirement*.
* technical note: modern buildings of this sort are built to different specifications than buildings of the past, because the economic realities of our times make it more convenient to specify a useful life of around 100 years. This is obviously considered when valuing the building, but make no mistake: this structure is not very likely to be there in 100, let alone 300 years’ time.