Skip to comments.Reel Faith: How the Drive-In Movie Theater Helped Create the Megachurch
Posted on 06/17/2012 6:06:09 AM PDT by marshmallow
The Crystal Cathedral rises like a spaceship out of an impossibly green lawn in Garden Grove, Orange County, California. The structure is neither crystal nor, technically, a cathedral, but it's acted as an archetype for a 20th century phenomenon: the Christian megachurch. From the church's soaring, sunlit pulpit, the charismatic preacher Reverend Robert Schuller spoke to a sea of worshippers -- not just to congregants in the cavernous room itself, his image amplified by a JumboTron, but also, eventually, to a much wider audience via the church's iconic Hour of Power reality show. If Christianity exists to be spread, the Cathedral has existed to do that spreading. It's been at once a place of worship and a TV studio.
The Crystal Cathedral has been in the news most recently for its financial troubles -- culminating in bankruptcy, a controversial shift in the the church's leadership structure, and, finally, the sale of the Cathedral itself to a neighboring (Catholic) diocese. Today, the church ministry announced that the congregation will be moving its services a smaller building, a currently Catholic church, a mile down the road from the Cathedral's compound. In that, the Cathedral also seems symbolic of its times.
But if a church is a kind of technology -- of media, of communication, of community -- then it's fitting that even a megachurch would have a humble startup story. And the origins of the Crystal Cathedral, for all its shine and swagger, are more garage than skyscraper. orangedrivein.jpeg
In 1955, the Reformed Church in America gave a grant of $500 to Reverend Schuller and his wife Arvella. The young couple were to start a ministry in California; for that, they needed to find a venue that would host their notional congregation. While making the trip from Illinois, driving on Route 66,.....
(Excerpt) Read more at theatlantic.com ...
No bias from this gerbilist! (/s) The broadcast of a church service is no more a "reality show" than is the broadcast of a Presidential speech.
(I wonder if "Hour of Power" watchers played drinking games, as FReepers do during Presidential speeches ...)