Seeking peace. Striving for justice. Together.
Arda Aghazarian, one of the International Peacemakers from Palestine, told a story about traveling to the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Orange County, California. Crystal Cathedral is a church building made of glass panes, all orchestrated by the Reformed Church of America. An 18 million dollar project, the Reformed Church of America designed the building to house the Crystal Cathedral Ministries. However, the upkeep of the building proved to be too much a burden for the ministry, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange Crystal Cathedral later bought Crystal Cathedral.
Arda observed the beauty and awe of the cathedral, yet she found that its existence is an example of American consumerism and materialism that interrupts the faithful life that Christ calls us to live. By creating a building that “shows off” financial resources, Arda said that we are missing the point of walking humbly before God. Andrey Beskorovainy, the Russian International Peacemaker, highlighted scripture stating that church should be a house of prayer. When we direct our attention as Christians to material, as opposed to Christ’s call for the world, we use God’s name in vain. Maybe the Crystal Cathedral’s financial downturn is sign that American Christianity is moving in a more missional direction, but surely we still have a long way to go. Taking insights from faithful outsiders’ perspectives like Arda and Andrey, what ways can we better turn away from American consumerism in our faith communities? How can we better direct our church finances? What have you learned?