My Journey: From an Iowa Farm to a Cathedral of Dreams
Dr. Robert H. Schuller’s career has spanned more than five decades, and his ministry of hope has touched the hearts and souls of millions around the world. From one great story to the next, this disarmingly honest autobiography shows us a side of the great preacher that we haven’t seen before. My Journey is Dr. Schuller’s moving account of his rise from his family’s struggling farm in a small Dutch community in Depression-era Iowa to the leadership of a multimillion-member international ministry. With warmth and candor, Schuller tells the stories of the events, the people, and the encounters that shaped his inspiring life and made him the ultimate possibility thinker.
Educated in a one-room schoolhouse, Schuller knew from his earliest days that he wanted to be a preacher. He describes times as a boy on the farm when the entire family worked to survive droughts, a tornado, and the Depression. He tells about working his way through Hope College and Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, where he discovered a message of joy and hope in (of all places) the works of John Calvin. He recounts the excitement of his wedding, the challenges of his first small church in Chicago, and the dramatic story of his coming to Garden Grove, California, in 1955 to found a church in a drive-in theater. Beginning with $500 in assets and his wife, Arvella, as organist, that congregation’s phenomenal growth ultimately led to the development of “Hour of Power,” the first worldwide television church, and the building of the internationally acclaimed Crystal Cathedral.
Dr. Schuller steps down from the pulpit to share the intimate details of the key moments that gave his life and vision their uniquely inspiring character. Using his legendary storytelling ability Dr. Schuller evokes the strict Dutch Calvinist culture of his youth, where dancing was a sin and people really kept the Sabbath. He describes his early sermons and successes evangelizing from the roof of the snack bar at the rented drive-in theater where his ministry took off, and how he was shunned by traditionalists in his denomination for daring to take Christian preaching where it had never gone before. Dr. Schuller shares insights on how his positive-thinking philosophy helped him through the difficult moments of his life, as well as the huge challenges he took on. He recounts meetings with great world teachers such as preachers Norman Vincent Peale and Billy Graham, psychiatrists Karl Menninger and Viktor Frankl, global figures Mikhail Gorbachev, William Clinton, Armand Hammer, and actor John Wayne. Dr. Schuller shares his own spiritual journey as he reflects on his personal life and relationships, charting how he blended the good news of the Gospel with the best of modern psychology. My Journey is a genuinely inspirational and quintessentially American story.
“In 1955, I accepted a call from the Classis of California of the Reformed Church in America to establish a church in central Orange County. Certainly the scope off the ministry that resulted is something no one could have predicted from its all-too-humble beginnings.” This kind of grand yet understated tone pervades the autobiography of Robert Schuller, My Journey: From an Iowa Farm to a Cathedral of Dreams. Schuller’s life began in 1926, “at the dead-end of a dirt road that had no name and no number.” He was the fifth child in a poor, conservative family, and he grew into an earnest young man whose hard work and discipline fueled a rapid rise to success and power. Schuller’s account of his personal life is both idealistic and candid (of his wedding night, Schuller writes, “The explosion of true joy and unalloyed affection was our reward for having waited to offer our virginity, each to the other!”). And his descriptions of his seminary years, his early ministries in the Midwest, and his move to California illustrate the development of his popular “Possibility Thinking” message, which built on the foundation of Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking. Schuller’s influence on American Christianity has been immense. He has muffled the doctrine of sinfulness in favor of an optimistic message about joy, success, and possibility. And although the reader may wish at times the author had used fewer exclamation marks and given himself more to circumspection, My Journey is an engrossing spin on the classic Horatio Alger tale. –Paul Power