Orange Crystal

It seems the Catholic Diocese of Orange in California is exploring the possibility of buying Protestant pastor Robert Schuller’s famous Crystal Cathedral. You can read about it here. This is both disturbing and exciting at the same time. It’s disturbing because, to be honest, the crystal cathedral is a ghastly, vulgar, monstrous greenhouse, and the idea that a Catholic diocese wants to buy it and turn it into their cathedral is very disappointing. However, given the parking garage that they built up the pike in Los Angeles, the Crystal Cathedral at least has a sense of light and space to it.

But what is exciting about this development is that the reason the huge place is up for sale is because Shuller’s ministry is bankrupt. So much for positive thinking then, and the reason this is exciting for Catholics is that we can start to imagine what it would be like if some other Protestant ministries went bankrupt and put their stuff up at auction. Here in Greenville, Bob Jones University has a pretty fantastic collection of Catholic art. How would it be if they went bankrupt and put all the paintings and vestments and sacred vessels out in a yard sale? We could buy it all back again. Think what it would be like in England if the Church of England went bankrupt and the Catholic Church could buy back all those cathedrals and churches that were stolen 500 years ago.

Alas, I think all we’re likely to get from the bankruptcy of Protestantism is the odd crystal cathedral or a few second hand pews or wide screen TVs and dry ice machines from the local mega church named “Living Waters” or “Passing Wind” or “Inner Spring”. Even more depressing is the realization that if Bob Jones did put their pictures up at a yard sale 98% of American Catholics wouldn’t cough up a penny to buy them back. They’d be too busy investing in one of those candle stands with electric fake candles for their parish, or totally involved in building a church that looked like a scaled down, brick version of the crystal cathedral.

This is when I get all nostalgic for the Middle Ages. Yes, I know it was smelly and they didn’t have proper health care and it was cold and they didn’t have orthodontics or iPhones or proper sewers. But they had Gothic churches and Gregorian chant and folk religion and I know I would have been quite happy as a monk in a scriptorium somewhere sauntering off to the divine office eighteen times a day and eating turnips, (except during Lent when I would only eat dirt) and I won’t be convinced otherwise.

  • priest’s wife

    church of the passing wind….lol!

  • Sarah R.

    That last paragraph made me laugh out loud. You crack me up at the most unexpected moments!

  • Giovanni A. Cattaneo

    We would need to replace some of those clear windows with stained glass if it is possible to do so, to make it look more Catholic.

  • Tom S.

    Father, You are the Best. Brilliant, Funny writing. And I'm right there with you about the middle ages (though I prefer Rutabagas to Turnips).

  • Gail F

    1) I would give money to buy them back! But then, I am a medievalist myself…2) The Crystal Cathedral is HIDEOUS. And I imagine the upkeep on that place is horrendous.3) "So much for positive thinking" — HA HA HA

  • EES

    I've seen that beautiful collection of sacred art at Bob Jones University. One has to wonder how they could so treasure it while fervently hating the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Perhaps it gives them a perverse sense of satisfaction.

  • Obpoet

    I had this thought when climbing to the golden lantern at St. Paul's Londan a few weeks ago: built after 1538, keep it; built before, give it back. It would be the Christian thing to do.

  • Obpoet

    I have a decent wine cellar, and am willing to keep Ben Long well supplied while he paints a fresco in Greenville, if someone can get him to come here.

  • Michael Bavlsik

    Father, the Catholic laity may well have been complicit with liturgical dance, pedophilia, washing machine agitator-inspired churches, Kumbaya and "living-document" interpretations of church teaching, but never,ever did the Catholic laity sign on to electric candles. These monstrosities are forever the product of Bishops (and their insurers) and pastors. I would suggest that when a bank of electric candles is installed in a church, a brass plaque be attached which clearly identifies the bishop and pastor responsible- much like the cornerstone of the church…. so that blame can be appropriately assigned.