Interesting analysis here. The nepotism had to be a very large factor. What was Dad thinking?
Schuller was really big back in the 70s, and I often listened to tapes of his sermons. He was in the center of Norman Vincent Peale's tradition. But I found him a lot easier to listen to than to watch on TV. I thought the show was a bit much. But what he had to say had truth in it. We are new creatures in Christ, we can make right choices because for the first time we are free from sin to do so. Schuller challenged us to make those right choices.
I remember a sermon where he describes standing outside a conference room door, preparing to go in to make a presentation to people whom he did not know. He pictures the people waiting inside as people who eager to see him, expectant; he pictures himself making an effective presentation, with an undercurrent of joy. And so he enters with a smile and with confidence, and the meeting goes very well.
After listening to that sermon several times, I began to do that myself, and it worked very well for me too, and I still do it to this day. I pause before going into the conference room where prospective clients are waiting to see me. I tell myself that I have something important to share with them, that I am going to share it effectively, that we will get on very well, and I will have not only new clients but new friends. Then I give the conference room door a little knock, open it, and go right in.
In another talk, Schuller speaks about losing weight, about taking care of yourself physically. He said that when you have this urge to eat the wrong thing, picture an overweight, middle aged man, grossly overweight in fact, and this man is walking down the beach in a tiny bathing suit with his big belly hanging out. He said that one should go to that scene as one considers that second helping. I've carried the picture in my head for at least 35 years, the picture of the fat man walking down the beach just so. Oh, I really don't want to be that man! No, no, NO!
I don't quite agree with the writer of the story in the L.A. Times that Schuller's message is obsolete. People have a great need, a thirst to do well, and the culture seems to say that it is not in them to do it - so buy this, behave this way, or vote for this candidate or that and he or she will get the goods for you. (Or medicate yourself into really not caring anymore, do that with drugs, alcohol, and mindless entertainment, whether licit or illicit, so that one's need to excel will be muted.) If you keep scratching at Schuller's message, I think you will see Jesus Christ at the center of it. He didn't lead with Jesus Christ, but the Lord was there, for the Lord transforms, he recasts us into resurrection bodies that are powerful because they are part of God's redemptive purpose, because those bodies are finally beginning to do what God originally created them to do.
FURTHER REFLECTION: I don't mean to say that we are "free from sin" in the sense that we no longer sin. I mean to say that we are no longer slaves to sin, as Paul writes in Romans 6. We will sin, but we will do so against our new nature, there will be choice in our misconduct as there will be in our right behaviors.