Monday, July 12, 2010

Schuller's Daughter is a Dickensian Villain

She has sworn to make her poor old father work until he dies.

So, at least, we gather from the LA Times article linked above, in which Sheila Coleman, the daughter of televangelist Robert Schuller, expresses her "outrage" at the "irresponsible" press reports that her 83-year-old father would retire soon.

In fact, Coleman says, he will preach "till the day he dies." This strikes us as a little cruel on her part, since she is the newly-chosen (and newly-ordained) senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral, and surely has it within her power to give her father a modest pension with which to live out his remaining years. (But perhaps the Reformed Church in America's pension plan has gone the way of Augsburg-Fortress's.)

Joking aside, the truth is that, as we have written before, we are surprised by our own affection for Schuller and the Crystal Cathedral. It isn't our kind of church, by any means, and we can't imagine what the rest of the RCA thinks of it. But a visit some years back helped to soften our cynical edge, by introducing us to real people for whom the "Cathedral" (of a church with no bishops, mind you) was simply their parish, where they gathered with old friends, were shaped by God's Word, buried their dead, and all the others things that people do in church.

Of course, we are not impressed by Schuller's clear desire to pass the church on to his children, as though it were family property. (The 2006 installation of Robert Jr. led to an ugly split). This sort of dynastic impulse, we suspect, represents the principal validation of a celibate ministry.

Still, we wish Coleman and her father well. We also pity her, more than a little, for inheriting a congregation with (a) a $55 million deficit; (b) contributions dropping 27% over two years, and (c) a powerful and overly-involved predecessor. It's a tough first call.

No comments: