NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

October 24, 2013

Between a huff and a puff

As I See It
Robert Campbell

---- — As you might be aware, I insert an essay on the goings-on in California from time to time because of their bizarre attitude about life, even death. A friend has kept us up to date on the long-lasting debacle involving the purchase of Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County, an outcome of the bankruptcy proceedings the past several years.

The three little pigs had a ball keeping their domicile free from the terror attacks of the big bad wolf compared to the diocese action to remove 1,800 “Walk of Faith” granite stones surrounding the church grounds. Schuller had asked donors over the years to pay $2,500-$3,000 for Bible-inscribed stones which, he said, would remain at the cathedral “for centuries to come.” But, as they say, time has come and now is gone! The Catholic Church stated they are “like a new home owner” and as such can do with “their” property whatever they want, like removing the stones.

It’s not as if it’s a wanton attack on another Christian religion either because the diocese is planning to provide, at their expense, digital images of donor stones on a website so that donors can view their stones “forever and at no cost to them.” Unfortunately, the good graces of the Catholic Church have run afoul of an 88-year-old widow who is heartbroken about two stones she purchased in memory of her dead husband and son. The Orange County Register pulled no punches in reporting her anguish. “I don’t want their friggin digital picture, I have no computer and wouldn’t know how to work one,” she said. The widow did acknowledge (the good news) she was thankful that Catholics got the rights to the church, but now tearfully (the bad news), “I just hate them.”

In the period after the announcement about the digital offer, only three of 100 responses have been negative. At .993, that’s not a bad hitting percentage! Incidentally, lost in the cluster of claims against the Schuller regime was the fact that of the $2,500 paid for a stone, $2,000 was to be placed in a “Perpetual Endowment Fund” to keep the cathedral’s gardens blooming, glass windows sparkling and fountain waters flowing during Sunday services. But, it appears the fund got intertwined in the bankruptcy proceedings and is now defunct.

It is indeed an unfortunate circumstance within the Christian family to have such bitterness over “things.” Too many disagreements happen in life over which we have control, but lose it due to the frailty of life. Robert Schuller and his extended family “drank at the well” of the Crystal Cathedral for years until their excesses became apparent to the world at large. They had only themselves to blame for taking instead of giving!

To his ultimate credit, however, Schuller accepted the bid of the Catholic Diocese for his cathedral despite a higher bid from close-by Chapman University, which intended to turn the church property into a learning center. Schuller commented that he wanted the church to remain a focus for Christianity. There is no hate in his soul when it comes to his relationship with Catholicism. Too bad there isn’t the same relationship between Christians and Muslims. It’s unfortunate that in our world of today, the burning of houses of worship is usually the first target of hate.

When parents put their children in bed at night and read a bedtime story about Goldilocks, Hansel and Gretel or the Three Little Pigs, there is no evidence of hatred, only love. Too bad children wake up to a world of huffing and puffing whether on a school bus, classroom or lunchroom. We need less hate!

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Robert D. Campbell, an essayist who lives in Newburyport, believes that a sense of humor is essential.