Archive for October, 2008

MOST RECENT UPDATE: The Crystal Cathedral has lost its power and filed Chapter 11.

UPDATE: Is Elder Schuller retiring? Don’t call it a comeback… it’s all right here. And then some.

Three years ago the father of the nation’s first megachurch, Rev. Robert Schuller and his Crystal Cathedral, gave up the ghost (metaphorically) and allowed his clone son to take over the pulpit.

But that entitlement was only an experiment as Good Ol’ Dad came back to roost and kicked that hen out of the house, citing a “lack of shared vision”. Oh boy!

“It is no secret to any of you that my son, Robert, and I have been struggling as we each have different ideas as to the direction and the vision for this ministry,” his statement read. “For this lack of shared vision and the jeopardy in which this is placing this entire ministry, it has become necessary for Robert and me to part ways.

I’m sorry. Did that old codger just chicken peck on his typewriter, “My son and I have to part ways”?! What was his reason, “irreconcilable differences”?! Someone getting half? Was there another woman?

What the …? This ain’t a divorce, dude. This is your son!

You don’t part ways just because the kid doesn’t throw down the theology like dear old Dad. Maybe the other woman is an old – and I mean OLD – seminary professor of yours calling you on the cell (or shouting in the can attached to a string) saying, “Hey Bob. Your boy doesn’t really profess the Divine Command Theory the way I’d prefer so I think he’s got to go.” And if that wasn’t it, this was:

Robert A. Schuller’s major challenge was attracting younger congregants and using the television program to build membership. It is unclear whether he achieved that.

Seriously?! Dude is like 98 and… his dad is older than that! Have you seen the blue hairs this grandiose church attracts? The AARP could hold a convention there and sell tchotchkeys on a weekly basis. The crow’s feet in that place could fill a zoo. That or a cornfield hanging out with the scarecrows.

Still no one knows what happened. And quite honestly, I don’t know if anyone cares. I suppose like the aforementioned disgruntled wife, the “man of the house” just needs to get younger at that position.

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To be the man, you have to well, be the man!

To be the man, you have to well, be the man!

Small, neighborhood churches can afford to do things in the community that the uberchurches can’t. And vica-versa for the megachurch when it comes to actually PAYING to do things anywhere else.

So you can imagine the surprise to most people who keep with things like this (yours truly included) when the amazing North Coast Church in Vista, Calif. shut down services last weekend to personify the Church [NOTE: Big “C”].

“So many people think of a church as a self-contained religious club – but it’s not,” said Pastor Larry Osborne of North Coast Church. “A healthy church is a community of Jesus-followers who live out their spiritual commitment 24/7.”

Over 6,000 North Coast attendees were expected to live out their commitment over the weekend as they tackled 139 community service projects at 70 sites throughout North San Diego County. On Oct. 25 and 26, the church closed its doors for a “Weekend of Service” and providing churchgoers the opportunity to show the love of Jesus.

Here’s the rub, sports fans… you know why something of this caliber makes news? Because it seems Christians as a whole doesn’t “show the love of Jesus” on a routine basis in droves.

Oh sure, you say “God bless you” at a retail store when someone gives you a receipt or write “Jesus loves you” on the slip near the tip at a restaurant… for uh, those of you who do tip. But this gets national attention. Anyone see an issue with this?!

Don’t get me wrong. What North Coast did is commendable. Imagine the witnessing in the town square when 5,000 happy Christians spread out and spread the message of Jesus. Sweet. And why?

“What we tell people is ‘this week, we’re going to be the church instead of going to church,‘” Osborne commented, noting that critics have become fans of the Weekend of Service and that this year, North Coast has received no complaint.

No complaint. Nice. “Hey Jesus freaks. Next time you come to town, spend money and try to make the world a better place, would you mind not smiling so much. We’re more of a morose crowd here in Boring Dimwits, USA.” Only in America, home of the Megachurch.

So, an Ethiopian and a Coptic are sitting on top of a roof…

Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke in an African seminary, huh? It’s not. It’s a true story about one of the sacrosanct sites on earth – the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

For decades, Coptic and Ethiopian Christians have been fighting over the Deir el-Sultan monastery, which sits atop a chapel at the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The monastery is little more than a cluster of dilapidated rooms and a passageway divided into two incense-filled chapels, an architectural afterthought alongside the Holy Sepulcher’s better-known features.

So where does my folding chair and koozie go again?

So where does my folding chair and koozie go again?

And this is why I went to seminary and loved it so – the history.

Jesus was known for rolling with the original “Dirty Dozen”, and among them were a few cats who created global ecumenical movements on their own: Peter, known as the “First Bishop of Rome” (shh… the Pope), Thomas created his own church of MILLIONS in India, John became a revelator and then there’s this Mark fella.

You see, after Jesus ascended to be at the right hand of the Father, Mark wanted a tan. He journeyed south by southwest and ended up in Egypt. The sun, that river, those great pyramids… the only thing missing was a church. So Mark had one built. And that’s where one of those Monks came from. The other? He’s from eh… Brooklyn or something.

Anywhoo, this is how silly religion can be and how absent in the midst of it can become – this century-old polemic is over… wait for it… a chair and whose Arabic behind rests in it.

The quarrel has erupted into brawls — in 2002, when the Coptic monk moved his chair into the shade and too close to the Ethiopians, a dozen people were hurt in the ensuing melee. And today, the Ethiopians claim the fight could result in the monastery’s collapse and even in damage to other parts of the church, one of the holiest sites in Christendom.

Other contentious issues on this sacred site has ignited into fisticuffs from [insert your best game show announcer guy voice here]: who will sweep the steps, what direction a chair should sit, a fire exit and the Church’s favorite, who will take down a ladder. Applause!

And who said Christians didn’t like to have fun?!

Yes, that’s a direct quote from the leader of the Nation of Islam. And yes, he should have said that while looking at himself in the mirror smirking the entire time.

During a recent rededication ceremony at Mosque Maryam (national HQ for the Nation of Islam in Chicago), minister Louis Farrakhan rattled off the following:

“Religion as it is being preached and practiced is a failure” … “Are Muhammad and Jesus enemies,” Farrakhan asked. “Why, then, are we?”

If by “organized religion”, you mean being ridden with guilt if you don’t make service, offer your alms publicly just so others can keep you in check, pray five times daily or else and forget eating ham during the holidays, then by Jove, you are right!

Any of that sound familiar, brother minister? Islam (in this country, not globally) is no more unorganized, ritualistic and perfunctory than Christianity, you dunderhead.

And as for your other thunderous epiphany, I have a few points of interest:

  • Jesus and Muhammad aren’t enemies.

True, but one is naturally subservient to the other, guess which one that would be, man who serves a guy who died centuries ago.

  • Muhammad was a man created by God with his own ability to reason. When he was 40, he gets bent about Islam, fasts during Ramadan, ventures to a cave and gets a revelation that “God is One.”

Uh yeah, wake up and the smell the 90s. Not the 1990s or 1890s, just the 90s – as in A.D. You see, Christians knew “God is One” way back then. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad you figured that out five hundred years later, but there was no need to write your own holy writ and call it something else to placate to the locals.

  • So just who were you addressing anyway? Did R.W. Schambach open a tent revival nearby?

Note this from the aforementioned story in the Los Angeles Times:

Besides religious leaders of many faiths, hundreds of other visitors were invited by Nation of Islam members to attend the ceremony. They passed through tight security before entering the mosque but were greeted with friendly smiles by Nation of Islam members.

Get this Wall Watchers. Bet you a dollar these were mostly young folk from the South Side, still impressionable in dogma and know the Nation does a TON of beneficence in the community.

So, this is NOT as inculpable as it seems – Farrakhan is not proselytizing unity for the sake of salvation; he is recruiting new soldiers for the sake of growth!

Any time a preacher extols a “We are the World” message, it’s bound to attract folk. Just ask Joel Osteen how that’s working out.

So, MEMO to all the nubile Muslims: Jesus and Muhammad aren’t enemies. BUT… they aren’t buddies either. One was a man, the other is GOD. One was a servant with a plagiarized message, the other is sovereign KING with edicts from on-high. One is dead, the other is ALIVE.

Farrakhan is right about one thing – organized religion is a flop. My recommendation? Try having a relationship with Jesus. If you don’t believe me, consider the following age-old idioms: “Buddha Damnit,” “Allah bless you,” “For the love of Vishnu,” and who could forget “Oh my Satan!” So, what’s wrong with all of these? GOD IS MISSING! There’s a reason for that, big guy. You figure it out.

November 7.

That day marks a fairly ostentatious birthday will be starting fire alarms everywhere as the esteemed nonagenarian Rev. Billy Graham turns 90.

This gentle giant of Christianity has served the Body of Christ with passion, purpose and persistence for more years than most of you have been saved… scratch that, been ALIVE. He began kicking off his ministry on the radio in 1944 – that’s more than 60 years, folks!

Has his ministry meant anything to you? Has the fact that he has been asked to consult presidents, led revivals to countless of millions, witnessed to billions and there’s no telling how many people are going to heaven as a result of his ministry. This man will have enough jewels in his crown to resemble Mr. T’s paradise on his forehead.

So, what can you get a man who seems to have no need for anything? A birthday greeting from you thanks to this new-fangled Web site the Billy Graham Evangelical Association has created.

So, spend a few seconds to login, think fast and be sincere. What a more fitting gift – “America’s Pastor” hearing from the entire nation. Let the Church say “Amen”… among other things.

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