Friday, June 05, 2015

My belated obituary for Robert Schuller and more

  • A headline I missed two months ago: Robert Schuller, 88, died April 2. Nice man (Midwestern wholesome meets California happy); not the thief or other kinds of hypocrite the anti-religious media make televangelists out to be. He was one of the first of those but not an evangelical nor political. (Francis Schaeffer politically activated another genuine pastor with a TV program whom I admired for different reasons, Jerry Falwell. Maybe that Baptist fundamentalist was right in the first place, in the '50s and '60s, about "worldly" politics not being the answer; I haven't voted mainstream since 2000. During his political phase he managed to be ecumenical, reaching out to us conservative Catholics like Pat Buchanan advised Richard Nixon to, and Ronald Reagan later did, vs. the Sixties aftermath, without compromising his own faith.) Schuller harkened back to the golden era, like one of his role models, Fulton Sheen, arguably the first televangelist. (Same positive message: "Life Is Worth Living.") A minister of the old Dutch Reformed Church in America, which has shed its ethnic adjective, he was part of a mainline not Sixties radicalized but subtly liberalized; his main role model was Methodist turned Reformed minister Norman Vincent Peale's "positive thinking." Pelagianism? Moralistic therapeutic deism? Maybe. I think it was Terry Mattingly of GetReligion who rightly characterized his message as concentrating '50s American mainline optimism (space-age progressivism, liberalism, not the Sixties New Left) like a laser beam. His brother mainliners looked down on him at the time for reaching out creatively (preaching at a drive-in, starting a drive-in church, very Southern California), which even his critics now credit him for. They and the anti-religious got a lot of Schadenfreude (Nelson Muntz's "HA ha!") over his (he ended up indigent, living on Social Security and California taxpayer-paid shelter and medical care) and his ministry's fall. (Essentially, "that hayseed huckster got what he deserved for getting above himself.") I felt for the man. His message, like similar minister Joel Osteen's, hated for pretty much the same reason (a lot of it is snobbery) and it seems another hereditary ministry, is true as far as it goes but it doesn't cover nearly enough. A message of personal liberation for the masses: break free from negative thinking and you too will have a shot at success. That was Schuller's difference with his son, who is a more old-fashioned Reformed minister, teaching about sin, etc. His Crystal Cathedral is magnificent but not suited for Catholic worship; I'm happy for him that at least his old friend Archbishop Sheen sort of got the last laugh in that it's now ours — at least it's still a Christian church and now a real cathedral. (We shouldn't have renamed it really: I wanted something such as "Crystal Cathedral of St. Callistus" to acknowledge its history and being a landmark. Nobody asked me, but put in a huge rectangular altar under a high baldacchino, space-age pre-Vatican II, and we'd be good to go.) Interestingly, when that happened, he was more than ecumenical, admitting that Catholicism is the mother church. (So why stay outside?) By the way, the mainline denomination that seems to be declining the most is the Reformed Church, falling far because it was never big. (How many ethnic Dutch do you know?) RIP.
  • On the passing of Beau Biden: News reporters and the president seem not to know that Catholic churches aren't supposed to have eulogies; trouble is a lot of Catholics seem to have forgotten that too. He needs prayers right now.
  • "The real world" and clergy. A minister's well-written plea for understanding. Like lots of people serving the public, overworked and underappreciated. I like what one convert Orthodox priest wrote: Protestant America tends to treat clergy like funeral directors ("Christianity is about not being judgmental": shut up, padre), there to provide platitudes and religious window dressing but there to take our orders. Those Japanese fake Christian weddings with actors as fake clergy not allowed to preach are a fitting statement about us Americans.
  • From Rational Review: Will U.S. soldiers soon be dying for Communism? The global Communist empire collapsed from its internal contradictions as many predicted early on (the economic laws it flouted) as well as American Cold Warriors' peace through strength (MAD is Realpolitik) and John Paul II's prayers and moral authority. But because of the Sixties, because of the other side winning America from within (reminder: Hillary Rodham switched sides then so she was a part of that), was that for naught? Rather like how Vietnam was lost: we won every conventional battle but the enemy won through attrition and I think guerrilla tactics and, most important, by demoralizing Americans (most don't remember we won the Tet offensive). The Communists killed more than the Nazis but you'd never know it. That tells you who really won both World War II and the Cold War.
  • "The foul tornado." Not that there are tornadoes that are not foul (maybe the ones that don't hit anything) but anyway. World War I.
  • Feel-good Catholic news: Pope Francis wants Vatican liturgy chief to continue the work of Benedict XVI. Benedict's "the Great" in my book because not only was he orthodox; he acted like it by being high-church, even taking on English Novus Ordo, admitting it was a problem and fixing it. Pedantry: there is no such Catholic term as Novus Ordo; it's a nickname. The new Mass's name is Ordo Missae just like the old; semi-officially, "Ordinary Form" to distinguish it from our Mass. Because of Benedict I have no conscience problem with it but I avoid it (haven't been all year so far) because it leaves a lot to be desired.
  • Sad story: America's forgotten kids who age out of foster care with no family. One young woman tried to hire people to have a "family" birthday party. That and, among the relatively affluent, "cuddle parties" and even businesses (rent-a-cuddler): something new's wrong with society, desperately lonely.
  • Things about Japan in anime that aren't true.
  • Psychopaths: They're not the creepy people; quite the opposite. So watch out.

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