Televangelist Robert Schuller is dead. As far as TV preachers go, he seemed a cut above the uber-fundamentalist, hellfire-and-brimstone grifters, despite the financial irregularities and bungled succession planning at his so-called Crystal Cathedral. But he was a megachurch pioneer, so he might have some explaining to do to Jesus about that.
I don’t have any use for church at all now, but I was dragged to enough of them as a yoot to have some inkling of the function they serve in their communities. My grandfather was a preacher, and he knew his parishioners, and they knew each other. At their best, churches offer a support network. How do megachurches do that?
The Walmartization of Christianity seems to be accelerating, at least around here. My sister lives down the road from a megachurch. It has a parking lot to rival a mall’s in scale, and if we’re going anywhere on Sundays or Wednesday evenings, we schedule our departure around the service release times so we don’t get stuck in a massive traffic jam.
In my little town, there was a small, non-denominational church that was around forever, and it seems to have been acquired by a megachurch in a neighboring town. Now they’re ripping up the lawn and laying the foundation for some monstrosity of a building that I feel certain will not only be an eyesore but a source of traffic issues that will overwhelm our single stoplight.
Are other religions experiencing a big-box retail outlet effect? Is there an upside?
Please feel free to discuss other topics too — this is an open thread.
Small groups within the church. Bible study groups, women’s groups, kids and teen programs, service groups, choir. Etc. The advantage of a megachurch is there’s so much happening you can probably find a group that fits with your interests rather than the same small group of people having to do everything in the church.
Since we can discuss other topics, Guardian has a story on Russian trolls.
I must say that I don’t miss Bob in Portland but I do wonder whether or not he got a new assignment.
Also, possible deal with Iran. Let the wingnuts heads explode.
They changed the name of the church on the corner from the West End Baptist to some “community” thing. We have such and odd mix of hipsters, old timey folks a students that it’s hard to figure out if they will draw more people. We also have this dude that has a hipster persona that runs this outreach church and has organized “community” dinners and the such. I try to be civil but that;s the best I can muster.
Dear Ms. Cracker: When they lived in Houston, one of my sisters-in-law belonged to a megachurch. It seemed to be kind of like being on one of those mega cruise ships, plenty of activities and opportunities to be part of groups, but never one community.
The largest evangelical church in the Boston area is in my town across the street from the Catholic parish. Sunday will see the annual parking war between the two churches (which ordinarily get along fine). The war is always a rout, as our police department is stoutly Irish and Italian in the New England way.
@Violet: That makes sense.
Different topic but related. The Al Shabab attack in Garissa, Kenya is awful.
“Are other religions experiencing a big-box retail outlet effect?”
We buy wholesale.
St. Peter’s Basilica. I find megachurches totally against Jesus teaching, but we’re not unique here.
I am not particularly religious but I do love the old temples in India. Especially the ones that are not easy to get to, high up in the Western Ghats, and that exist side by side even more ancient Buddhist ruins.These temples are usually tiny, the very opposite of mega.
@Violet: I imagine that with seventy dead and seventy nine wounded there were plenty of muslims killed also. I do think that the mention of Christians is to get more attention.
@Betty Cracker: Another thing with a megachurch is a lot of people means more money means better facilities. So instead of the ramshackle church with pews and a pulpit and not much else you get the big box buildings you describe above. Inside they’ve got basketball courts, kitchens, sometimes more than one restaurant, a shop, maybe a school, etc. Advantages and disadvantages of both, but a lot of people want one-stop-shopping for everything they do. Megachurches can offer that.
Too bad that some religious people can’t be happy that their god will burn everyone who disagrees with them in whatever nasty place he has in store for the non believers. Guess it just falls to them to kick the ass of anybody the voice in their head dislikes. Wouldn’t do to just leave the other kind of people alone.
BTW what is with MoU and dictators? He was praising Asian dictators this week in his column.
@Violet: There’s also the range of services the megachurch can provide. Those buildings are the size they are because they include food services, gyms, game courts/fields, meeting rooms, Internet access (to all the approved sites, natch), even bunks for folks that are doing a lot of things in succession and need somewhere to crash (these are separate – and separated – from shelter beds). There’s a whole-world kind of experience to be had in the biggest ones. They’re becoming the Bagram of Xtian Installations: places where an Xtian can have a complete existence without needing to step outside the walls, but still in the midst of the Outside World (not some out-in-the-wilderness camp like Waco). It would be appealing if the theology attached weren’t so repugnant.
@Violet: Why does one need a basket ball court in a church?
Not all kittehs are pretteh but they all need shelter. I’ve been debating dropping this on y’all. Mrs J took some FIV/FeLV cats up to a shelter in Iowa last week and came home with this among the pictures she took.
@schrodinger’s cat: One doesn’t “need” a basketball court, but if you have kids and teens it’s a good place for them to run around and burn off steam. Plus a lot of churches have sports leagues.
It’s all part of bringing all parts of the church members’ lives into the church rather than having them do those things in the wider world.
@schrodinger’s cat: To shoot the rock!
Catholics do it too, Oakland’s $175M Cathedral of Christ the Light
I have long said that all Walmart needs is a church in the middle.
@Violet: And church league are worse than any tavern league as far as cheating and underhandedness.
Schuller was a pretty good guy. If anything, the financial errors and succession issue shows that he was not the crafty televangelist running it like a business. I also never detected the mentality of a Pat Robertson/Jerry Falwell or other odious politician/preachers. His message was about optimism and joy.
@jeffreyw: Mrs J rocks! How is your crew? Is garage kitteh still in the garage?
@boatboy_srq: Michelle Obama visited North Point Community Church in Alpharetta because of their early child hood education. She spoke about healthy eating if memory serves me.
I’ve been to the church but for another function not church related.
Even hypocrites sometimes do good things. imo
North Point Community Church has twenty thousand members.. That’s big.
It amuses me to no end that Saddleback Baptist Church has a gift shop in the foyer that leads straight into the sanctuary … and it has an ATM in it. Electronic money changers in the temple.
I believe in God, and I believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ as I understand them. But I washed my hands of Christianity as an institution years ago after I realized that most Christians in this country worship Mammon but delude themselves into pretending that Mammon is Christ and that you can tell the very best preachers by the quality of their personal jets.
When it comes to standing up for the rights of the individual, the governors of Indiana and Arkansas might want to look at how it’s done in Sao Paulo:
That’s how a government should stand up for individual rights: prosecute any fucker who tries to stamp on them.
And as the article says, “If you’re shocked by the sight of a woman breastfeeding — it might be time to get over it”.
@Betty Cracker @Top: there’s a resemblance to the medieval cathedral: one large parish with a number of junior clergy and a small army of laity ministering to the community piecemeal. The difference is that the cathedral could rely on neighborhood churches to support the larger effort and keep a localized community coherent, and those communities adhere as wholes within the larger whole: the megachurch seems incapable of tolerating expansion outside its walls unless those walls can be expanded to contain that expansion.
The massive edifice can, however, go direct to television, since that brings the experience of being in that unique space to the viewer (even though it cannot bring the viewer to the space) – and since the largest ones already use video within the space to project the leadership’s message in massive scale to the attending flock, expanding that format to the airwaves/cable/Intertubes is a much shorter leap than for more traditional denominations.
@JPL: Funny. I just thought Bob in Portland was a raging nut, rather than a paid troll. Somehow, that possibility makes him seem less idiotic.
I have been to a Hindu temple in Lanham a couple of times when I lived in Maryland. Whenever we had Indian guests they would want to visit the temple. For me the attraction was good South Indian food. But it just didn’t feel like a real temple to me. It was too new and too shiny, plus parking was always a bitch.
I think he likes the idea of somebody stepping in and implementing his desired policies without the need for any messy discussion. That’s the main thing that people like about dictators; they’re great at getting stuff done. The problem with dictators, as he tacitly acknowledges in that same column, is that the stuff they want done isn’t always a good idea, at which point the lack of obstacles to them getting their way is a huge drawback.
@JPL: No argument here that there is value in some of the things the big boxes do: homeless shelters, (some) education, foodstuff and other supports are all good things, and I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface. I just have a problem with the theology so many espouse (There Are No Xtians But Us, People Not In This Building Every Sunday Are Eternally Damned, etc).
Not everybody will have fond memories of Schuller.
ETA from the link: “Canfield said he and other members of the congregation are upset the request came at a time when their church is in bankruptcy and information coming out through court documents has suggested that the Schullers took nearly $10 million from the church’s endowment funds.”
@Mandalay: Not that many years ago, malls did not have nursing areas and my son asked where I nursed him. He looked at my face and quickly said, never mind. A screaming baby would bother me more.
Kerry is coming up now.
Maybe Obama will sell more BFD tees.
@srv: For awhile in the 1990s Wal-mart really was like a shrine to Sam Walton. His face was all over the store. Sam’s this, Sam’s that on posters. I think they’ve moved away from having so many store branded products after he died.
@dmbeaster: Anything is possible.
Paul in KY
Drive down I-64 West into Louisville & there is some huge church on the right that my mom calls the ‘Jesusdome’. In Lexington, there is one on Harrodsburg Road that goes on for a city block. Lots of money in Jesusing, it appears.
A number of years ago I read a humorous/not so humorous comparison between modern mega churches and football games. The person wasn’t so religious so it was from an outsiders perspective. I remember cringing at the comparison of the parking lots and music as well as the stadium seating.
I will say that these megachurches do build their OWN communities – mini towns with large bureaucratic apparatus that revolve around kids activities, child care, bible study, etc. – but it is much more a a company town situation.
@srv: The Crystal Cathedral is now Christ Cathedral, a Roman Catholic church. http://www.christcathedralcalifornia.org
@Mike R: I’ve been saying this for a very long time . . . if these people think they have found all the answers and are destined for a heavenly afterlife, why are they so angry? I would expect them to just smile and nod and leave the heathens alone, smug in the knowledge that they will not be sharing their afterlife with their enemies. Shouldn’t faith bring peace?
Yep. Saudi Wahabbis have been doing it in the Muslim world and American fundiegelicals are doing it in the Christian one. Squeeze out and destroy every local church and tradition in favor of the big uniform Borg hive mind. Never thought of it as “the Walmartization of religion,” but that’s probably the best term I’ve heard for it yet.
ETA: hadn’t read that far but as I said above, yes, other religions are experiencing it too. At least Islam is. The Taliban in Afghanistan were to quite an extent the result of this Saudi effort at spreading their own brand, funded with tons and tons of petrodollars, to Afghanistan and squeezing out local Sufi and otherwise “wrong” traditions. Pretty much everywhere there’s a Muslim community of any size worth talking about, this happens.
Well, I grew up in a, um, non-Christian neighborhood, so the whole briar patch of Christian sects and churches just struck me as weird. The local Catholic church was Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, and the fact that the sidewalk around the church was painted green gives a hint about the dominant ethnicity of the parishioners.
How common are these mega churches? I haven’t encountered a single one, but I haven’t been looking for one either.
Tree With Water
I just began reading Dante’s Inferno (4 stars). I wonder at what level will I meet the late Mr. Schuller?
@Roger Moore: Yep. That series of dictators they had in Burma certainly didn’t lead anywhere close to prosperity. You certainly can’t look at where the Philippines ended up during and post Marcos and wonder in awe at the speed in which they climbed to economic power on the back of a man of great vision.
Singapore is great..it can be easy to build a prosperous trading city when one isn’t saddled with the demands of dealing with poor peasants in the countryside.
@Peale: MoU is also a big fan of China.
Also, John Bolton’s head just exploded.
Also, John Bolton’s head just exploded.
For a truly “interesting” thing check out the National Community Church in DC which seems to attract the Millennial crowd primarily. They have locations all over the DC/VA area – sort of like a McDonalds…… one meets in an active movie theater and another meets in what was a movie theater(their url is theaterchurch.com so it has become a bit of a “thing” for them). They even own and operate a coffee house near Union Station where the profits supposedly go towards their community outreach projects because according to them, “The church belongs in the middle of the marketplace.” They have also bought several properties with plans to be in the middle of the marketplace I suppose.
Our lovely New England town, established in 1636, a stop on the Underground Railroad and host to the Mende after the Amistad trial, is now witnessing the erection of a enormous Mormon temple on the main thouroughfare. It’s a damn peculiar juxtaposition.
Paul in KY
@schrodinger’s cat: What does ‘firang’ mean?
@rlrr: I predict a meltdown of epic proportions on the WashPost editorial pg.
I used to work a block away from God’s Grain Elevator: the infamous Word of Faith church of Robert “help me jesus” Tilton, in Dallas. This was after he’d been indicted and driven out of town, but the grain elevator remained.
The south seems as ridden through and through with megachurches as with WalMarts.
The grift goes on.
@Paul in KY: Foreigner.
The Main Gauche of Mild Reason
I live in San Francisco, probably ground zero in the US for Western Buddhism, and still less than 60 people show up for Dharma talks on Saturday morning. So some religions are immune…
@srv: Catholics have been doing that since at least the 13th Century.
The President will address the nation at 2:15. Please let Biden attend so he can issue his famous words.
Paul in KY
@Tree With Water: My problem with the copy I read is that he skewers a lot of contemporaries in book & I had no idea who a lot of them were & whether their torment was funny or not. Make sure there is proper annotation to tell you why these people were included by Dante.
Singapore is to Malaysia more or less what Monaco is to France. Like every city, Singapore does have a countryside. It’s over the Causeway, in Malaysia, and it’s called the state of Johor.
Paul in KY
@schrodinger’s cat: Thanks. Is it an epithet or just the standard word for foreigner?
I am grateful that I don’t have the God gene, really. I do go to church literally every week because I sing there, but I don’t get the belief system at all. Some of it makes no sense, some of it is MEAN, and it’s just kind of a death cult from my atheistic perspective.
There was a lot of great music written for the church, though, I’m grateful for that. This holy week, we’re singing Sicut Cervus by Palestrina, which I love…but also Hallelujah Chorus, which I am so tired of.
@Paul in KY: Depends on how it is used, tone of the voice etc, context matters. Can have the connotations of an outsider, some who does not belong.
ETA: Not a Hindi/Urdu scholar or even a native speaker for that matter.
Tree With Water
@Paul in KY: No problem there, Paul. Leastwise, I’ve recognized everyone I’ve thus far met in myself.
” Funny. I just thought Bob in Portland was a raging nut, rather than a paid troll. Somehow, that possibility makes him seem less idiotic. ”
If Bob in Portland was a Russian troll, they seem to have somewhat better trolls than the GOP..Unlimited Corporate Cash comes to mind. Not sure if that is something to worry about or not.
That kitteh makes me want to hug him!
@rlrr: Is there video? [crosses fingers]
You don’t have to look any further than China to see the disadvantages of a dictatorship. China could have gotten where they are now a lot sooner if Mao hadn’t messed things up as badly as he did with The Great Leap Forward and The Cultural Revolution. And Japan seems to have modernized very nicely without a dictator to organize things.
@‘Niques: Evangelical christianity is a Ponzi Scheme. In order to get into heaven, you have to “spread the word” and add Jeebus-Amway distributors to your network. The larger your pyramid, the larger the prizes for you in heaven. If there’s heathens around and you haven’t converted them, then that’s a ding on your permanent record, don’t let it happen again. That’s how the grift works.
I have to say, I much prefer non-evangelizing versions of the monotheistic religions, like the Jews, the Quakers and similar Mennonite-like sects (who even dress like the Hassidim), and even the catholics tend to avoid proselytization (if only they could keep their hands out of our laws, and out of our Supreme Court). They just do their own thing and don’t want to be bothered by anyone else, and I respect that.
Paul in KY
@schrodinger’s cat: I went & wikied it & it is an epithet. Appreciate your trying to answer :-)
@schrodinger’s cat: Homer is back to spending nights in the garage. Keeps him from beating up on Ginger boy and from getting beat up by Toby. Bea just wants to be left alone. Bitsy will cut you so she gets left alone, pretty much.
@MattF: It’s not like he was using it…
@The Main Gauche of Mild Reason:
” So some religions are immune…”
Buddhism was not immune to political corruption and Borg mindedness in Japan during WWII, at least after the anti-war leadership was thrown in jail after speaking out.
Any religious leadership that does not recognize and acknowledge that any earthly institution, including a religious one can be, and often is, radically corrupted should be viewed with extreme suspicion.
@Paul in KY: Usually used as an epithet but the word itself just means foreigner. Just out of curiosity, why the question?
Why exactly is it that this can’t be leveraged in an energy-efficiency-is-national-security approach to “reduced dependence on foreign oil”? Rhetorical question, I know: Drill-Baby-Drill is the only answer the Reichwing will accept. Still, not buying petroleum means not sending billions to Wahhabism: shrink the market enough and the Taliban, IS et al no longer present a problem.
@schrodinger’s cat: It’s like the little churches in Greece – you go up a mountainside or along a coastal track and there’s a little domed white-washed church with a tiny altar and lamp and some of them have really old Byzantine frescoes. And my friend in S. Korea says it’s the same there in the mountains and countryside – tiny Buddhist temples. I think they’re all to do with earlier worship of nature and the earth, that’s just been carried over into later, more widespread, religions. Megachurches are the complete antithesis of this.
@jl: Also too, the Buddhist monks in Burma.
@jeffreyw: Sounds like Toby is the boss cat of your herd.
@gogol’s wife: Mrs J says he has a Facebook page but I didn’t find it with a cursory search. His name is Precious. There is a link to the Rustic Hollow shelter in the W4D post.
@The Golux: I’ve driven past the one in DC. I call it Minas Mormon. Tell me I’m wrong here.
One of my earliest memories as a kid of TV evangelism was Schuller. I was really impressed by the look of the Crystal Cathedral on TV. in grad school I taught a community college in Orange County where you could go out to the back of the campus and see the Crystal Cathedral and just a few of the highest points of Disneyland at the same time. I remember seeing the Crystal Cathedral glowing on the horizon, i guess for a night service and fireworks from Disneyland going off at t the same time. Cute memory.
He was criticized as being a bogus feel-good namby pamby pseudo-Christian by the fundies, and before I learned myself on history of Christianity, I kind of bought that line.
During a news report on the flap in Arkansas, I heard a clip of fire and brimstone fundy preacherman thundering (close paraphrase): Homosekshality ahyaz condayammed in the Holy Gospel of Jaysash Chrahst ayaz ayan aayan ayahbhooominaaashuuunnnnnn in the ayaz a Gawd!!
Anywya, people can think about what that preacherman said and consider all that is dead wrong about it contemplate exactly who is he bogus Christian.
Steve in the ATL
And every one of them votes straight ticket Republican, somehow missing the irony of doing that while claiming to be Christian
@schrodinger’s cat: Toby makes damn sure Homer knows that, but just why Tobe lets Ginger get by with rough play is a mystery to me. I guess it’s all about intent.
Paul in KY
@schrodinger’s cat: Saw it in an article on Yahoo about Indian females who married/date foreigners (and happen to be living in/visiting India).
it’s the Prosperity Gospel HUSTLE. Plain and simple.
@dmbeaster: Schuler and his family made sure they were all well compensated by their ministry — he did everything first class. Perhaps not as audaciously as some of the other more infamous televangelists like the ridiculous Crouches down the freeway, but he did not eschew the bling. That was fine as long as his congregation kept growing and donating, but by the 90’s, the Crystal Cathedral megachurch was getting less and less “mega” and by the time Schuler stepped down, they were pretty much broke.
No, you’re not wrong. But I think I also see a bit of influence from London’s iconic Battersea Power Station.
Paul in KY
@boatboy_srq: Dol Gulmon. Looks like something out of the Hunger Games (or Middle earth).
@schrodinger’s cat: I think Chinese Chan (Zen) Buddhists have been most immune to political corruption in East Asia. But then they seem to have been OK with, for example, every side hating, fearing and bombing them during WWII and the communist revolution. Political co-option has its advantages.
I’ve been to the Chrystal Cathedral once, my cousin bought us tickets for their Christmas extravaganza. I must say it was pretty impressive. She’s a member of Rick Warren’s mega-mega church…and don’t get me started.
@boatboy_srq: The DC Mormon Temple is visible from the Beltway, and during hte ’80’s, there was a railroad bridge over the Beltway that had ‘Surrender Dorothy’ painted on it:
We call it Bram Stoker meets Brigham Young.
@jeffreyw: He probably doesn’t see Ginger as a threat.
@jeffreyw: Did he have an accident or was it a birth defect? Poor critter.
@maurinsky: Yeah, Sicut Cervus! One of my favorites, too. Unfortunately, I teach on Wednesday nights, when my church’s choir rehearses, so I haven’t done much singing the last few years.
But I would have to sing the Hallelujah Chorus quite a few times in close succession to get tired of it. I’m a bass, and there are several spots where we get to come in alone and carry the piece forward, and I get happy just thinking about it. Anyway, happy singing!
@jeffreyw: First reaction “Tough guy, eh?” Second reaction, overwhelming desire to figure out if that kitteh would tolerate an eyepatch and a fake parrot in Halloween. (Wish I could have cats; too dratted allergic).
Steve in the ATL
Down here south of the Mason-Dixon line, you can’t swing a dead or maybe alive or maybe both at the same time cat without hitting one
@Steve in the ATL: I have been to your fair city only once but I have always lived (far) above the Mason Dixon line.
@Steve in the ATL: I’d say that the paler towns in Central Valley are almost like that. The ones here understand that their beliefs are not as well accepted among the population in Calfiornia as in the South, so they have bland folksy names and and are somewhat careful about how they advertise their beliefs. But from family and friends have heard that their teachings are pretty hard core, and people get a tonload of pressure on hot button issues after they join.
What particularly turns women off, especially single women is the hard core anti-abortion (and later on, anti-contraception), anti-women, teachings and reactionary politicking.
There are couple I could name that are like Walmart chains over several cities, that are dishonest and I dislike them intensely.
@Tree With Water: The eighth circle, sixth bolgia – the Hypocrites.
J R in WV
Hi Schrodinger’s Cat. I saw an article about your cat’s namesake, here at:
I didn’t know but what you might be interested. Evidently the author has also written a book about Schrodinger and Einstein working on a Unified Theory of everything.
Another Holocene Human
@dmbeaster: I actually know a number of volunteer shills for Russia.
Some of them are quite intelligent. But they don’t know a ton about affairs outside the US (but think they do because they are plugged into radical left sources). Russian propaganda has been VERY effective on the US’ far left, but that’s sort of pointless because they are a tiny group that’s only influence is on domestic issues (immigration, labor).
Anyone ever try to give their local fundy Christianists heck at zoning board meetings by bringing up terrorists who profess to be Christian? (If Muslims get this crap every time they want to gather, it only seems fair.)
Plumline on Hillary:
@J R in WV: Thanks! I will take a look. Einstein was wrong about quantum mechanics. God does indeed play dice, although he/she does that at the subatomic level not at the level of kittehs!
Please note, I am generalizing heavily in the following.
Partly because of the prohibition on driving (even public transport depending on your rebbe) on Shabbat, combined with the family orientation and need for a daily minyan, it is unlikely that Orthodox or Haredi Congregations would would ever get as comprehensive or acquire buildings as big as you mention. Though many will travel before a major holiday, like to particular Hasidic Rabbis in Israel or Brooklyn, to attend a well respected Rebbe’s congregation.
The building size increase would be more likely to happen for Reform or Conservative Congregations, except almost every one of these Temples is built with an attached Hebrew School component. Which both increases the general footprint required, but limits the total size of the complex because it’s hard enough to get your kids out to Hebrew school on 2 weekdays and Sundays, it would be impossible if it were hours away. Add in that old joke, about how it takes 10 Jewish people to make a minyan (to pray) and 11 to make a new Temple Congregation, and there are limiting factors, at least to the physical footprint.
It should, but anymore, it just seems to engender the fear that the person next to you who doesn’t share your beliefs is going to drag you, their family, and everyone else they know in hell with them, all for the mortal sin of daring to not think like you do.
@The Golux: We just got one of those in our area about 3-4 years ago. Scarily, right next to the police academy.
@schrodinger’s cat: For religious buildings that are hard to get to, try Greek Monastaries. Holy Crap.
@boatboy_srq: Thankfully, the one being built here won’t be anything that hideous. It actually takes some cues from a typical New England church, but it will be ginormous.
@sparrow: Very picturesque.
jake the antisoshul soshulist
For example, Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. In many ways he was as bad, if not worse, than Papa Doc next door. But he did build a series of Hydro-electric dams that provide most of the power on Hispaniola. Though I am sure he and his cronies profited immensely.
@Citizen Alan: Saddleback Church sounds like the kind of place that conducts weddings that Memorial Pizza won’t cater…
@Scamp Dog: Our congregational church choir is doing polyphony (Tallis and Byrd) tonight for Maundy Thursday, Faure Requiem at noon tomorrow, and Rutter Gloria (plus Hallelujah for a postlude) on Sunday morning. Choristers are not allowed to have a life during holy week. Especially love the extended tenor soli in the Faure and could sing them over and over again, and I agree with maurinsky that Hallelujah gets tiresome after you’ve sung it a few dozen times, even if it is only once a year (at Easter and NOT at Christmas). Break a leg, singers!
@Pogonip: I just don’t know. The only info we can dig up about the cat is that it was taken from a “hoarding situation” and is friendly, will follow you around and sit on your shoulder.
@jeffreyw: Well, then maybe it will be adopted by a so-ugly-it’s-cute person!
I just created a petition asking Neil Diamond to cancel his planned Indianapolis concert. Please sign/share:
(And anyone about to post anti-Neil snark should ask themselves when was the last time they were able to delight thousands of women at once. ;-))
J R in WV
@schrodinger’s cat: Any larger town in the so-called bible-belt is over-supplied with mega-churches. I’ve seen them in Indiana, MO, Arkansas, TN, VA, OK, TX, KS, just driving through.
There are even some in WV. I’m sure they are in Ohio, too, although I haven’t seen them. Some are in obviously expensive locations near the interstate, others are in high-density neighborhoods where the original property wasn’t too expensive.
I hate it that they are spending money on their facilities, while funding for homeless veterans, people sick without health care, food banks for the hungry, etc is too much for these people to participate in. Not my understanding of how christianity was intended to work at all.
“The Fortune 500 is running shamelessly to endorse the radical gay marriage agenda over religious liberty to say: ‘We will persecute a Christian pastor, a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi,’ ” he said. “Any person of faith is subject to persecution if they dare disagree, if their religious faith parts way from their political commitment to gay marriage.”
– Ted Cruz
@J R in WV: Saw a new yorker cartoon last week. Schrodinger is sitting in the vet’s waiting room. The vet is explaining to him “Mr. Schrodinger, we have good news and bad news.”
Tree With Water
@Hillary Rettig: If he wrote nothing else, Diamond wrote Red Red Wine. The man is a ear worm artist, which is a proud title. But if I was a Red Sox fan, I’m pretty sure I’d hate his guts by now.
Ella in NM
Yes, Rev. Schuller was a televangelist who weekly begged for donations from viewers and used that money to build a glass cathedral as well as a very large, well funded ministry. For some, that made him a Mega-church charlatan, a grifter, a con man.
But lets face it: All churches are “businesses” on some level. In my experience, there are always larger and smaller congregations in any given community, and even the more “old fashioned” denominations have extensive chapels, educational and recreational facilities for their congregants. Our local “Mega-churches” are the Catholics, the Baptists, and a Non-Denominational Evangelical “Church Triumphant”. They have bills to pay, from overhead to teachers salaries in their pre-K to High schools. They have staff and educational activities to fund for their members. In reality, they do a lot of good in our community, and their attendants lives, whether I like the specifics of what gets preached on Sunday morning. Or the fights and disagreements between the church elders about finances–again, this has been going on in churches since forever.
So, what I think of what Robert Schuller and his decades-long ministry is that he actually did a lot more good than he did harm. Because of how he touched my life.
As a child of 70’s “agnostics”, our home was devoid of discussion of what REAL Christianity was. Just all the bad things it was anti-science, shunning, silly rules, hurtful, fearful “fire and brimstone” threats of hell for people who did not follow a given churches teachings. I learned very early on to see religious people as kind of “conned”, weak-minded souls who didn’t know better or how to be a good person without being told how by some preacher. On top of that, we were a pretty stressed out little family, with a mother who suffered from depression, a bit of alcoholism and occasional violent, angry mood swings. And a sweet but ineffectual Dad who tried his best to cope but often wasn’t there enough to protect us. As much as we were loved and cared for, too often we were children who were afraid, in pain, and felt alone in a world in which no one knew our story, no one cared.
I remember coming across Robert Schuller’s ministry on my TV as a youngster one Sunday morning while my parent’s still slept in and my brothers and I played with our toys quietly on the living room floor, hoping they’d stay in bed as long as possible. My mother had always disdained the Baptist preachers from her childhood and their counterparts on television, calling them hypocrites, fear-mongers, crooks. But this smiling and gentle man spoke of love, of hope, of kindness and mercy. And of possibility–for change, for things to get better, for healing, if only we keep trying. I was embarrassed but intrigued.
Over the years I would run across his show on Sunday mornings. I’d tune in on and off. One time I sent $10 bucks in for this little crystal statue because it said something that really helped me cope with all my worries in life: “Let Go, Let God”. Say what you want about him being a crook but this guy said a lot of really good things, and the money he made meant he could come back on TV every week to say them. He talked about a God and a Jesus who I had never heard of, a man who cared more about the least of us than my being a perfect church member, who helped me forgive and move on from so many painful things I could have just harbored. I developed a sense of connection with this Loving Jesus that has followed me through my life, grown richer and more complex as I looked deeper into what He REALLY taught us. I still don’t go to church regularly, but I reconnected with my extended family’s Congregational/United Church of Christ roots, and do attend when I’m in a town that has one.
So I don’t love the messiness of all his fundraising efforts and I can’t speak to how he spent that money. But I appreciate his devotion to touching and lifting and unburdening lost souls. He WAS a little different than most TV evangelicals: he actually said something that made sense to me.
So Thanks, Robert Schuller for what you did for me: you led me to a better understanding of Love.
Whoever sings prays twice. It is of course appropriate that Christians should devote holy week to holy things.
Mom Says I'm Handsome
My friend calls this kind of church a Discount Jesus Warehouse. Praise the lard!
@J R in WV:
This is also why I roll my eyes whenever I hear the common claim that “religious people give more to charity than nonreligious people.”
No, they don’t. Religious people give to their church, and simply assume that that’s charity; and much of that money, when it doesn’t simply disappear down the pastor’s vault, goes to these kinds of vanity projects. Yes, it’s nice that they’re willing to be parted with their money (though if we’re going to credit people with that, every Nigerian email scam victim should be canonized). But a private jet for the pastor isn’t a fucking soup kitchen.
The Catholics invented big box cathedrals when they convened the Lateran Council and built the Vatican
” But a private jet for the pastor isn’t a fucking soup kitchen. ”
I have some relatives who used to go to mainline Presbyterian churches that got split off into conservative joints by ambitious local perachermen (it is always a preacher man, for some reason). Along with the open reactionary politicking, their big complaint is that the reactionaries always savagely cut any real charity funding, for like for example, kids, the poor and the sick. There is always some BS excuse that it is not really aligned with the ‘Christian mission’, no matter what the charity is.
And, let me guess, the money got reinvested into “missions trips.”
AND, let me guess, those “missions trips” were mostly NOT to places like North Korea or the Muslim Middle East, but instead to places like Latin America, Europe, the Philippines and other parts of the world that’re already overwhelmingly Christian, so they weren’t even bringing unchurched souls to Jesus so much as bringing Catholics, Orthodox, and Wrong Kind Protestants over to the True Western Branch of American Reform Presbylutheranism.
How’m I doing?
Tree With Water
@Ella in NM: The Lord indeed works in mysterious ways.
@jl: Bayside, maybe?
Ella in New Mexico
@Tree With Water:
Indeed he does, I’m not ashamed to admit, and for which I’m ever grateful. :-)
@Chris: I’ll have to ask. I know health care for poor gets damn near zeroed out, since a few pennies might, no matter how many precautions are taken, end up allowing women to escape being illiterate, inumerate, and barefoot chattel slaving away in the kitchen with all the kids her man wants, or living like human being, or having sex on equal terms, or…. ABORTION ABORTION ABORTION!!! (and birth c * n t r * l).
One of my cousins left a church because money for repairing fistula repair was cut, since… apparently, too close to the female naughty bits and something no good must be going on.
Really disgusting, no matter where the money is diverted to.
@sacrablue: I can never remember the names exactly, until I drive by them. I think Bayside is one, Another is Crossroads, I think.
The ones I have heard my religious family and friends complain about seem to be Southern Baptist style outfits in disguise.
@jonas: I agree that they paid themselves lavishly, although I would suspect on the typical scale of mega preachers, they were small scale in doing so. But they still had a mercenary streak. The bankruptcy in fact opened all of it up to scrutiny, so exactly how much they got paid is known.
In my early career as a lawyer, I was one of the lawyers working on the litigation between the Church and the company that erected the Crystal Cathedral (we were representing the contractor Pittsburgh Des Moines Steel Co.). Various construction issues delayed the opening of the church for almost a year, which disrupted the planned festivities for the roll out of the grand opening.
In the litigation, the Church submitted a lost profits claim based on the delay in opening; i.e., how much TV and gift revenue they lost because the Church opened late. So they had their mercenary streak all right.
Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937
My rule of thumb for churches is do they do anything for people who were not members. The megas don’t. They have lots of ‘missions’but just for themselves. Not my definition of a Christ follower. That and they’re all biblical literalists.
Unintended consequences of Indiana’s new discrimination law?
Indiana’s Church of Cannabis Growing Like a Weed
Probably the next Hoosier megachurch.
Organized religion is a con job, and the natural evolution of all con jobs is toward the Big Con.