Greenleaf: S1 E9 – “The Broken Road” Synopsis

“The Broken Road” serves as the title of this episode and is the title of the duet between Charity and Carlton. In my opinion, this episode should be named “the ugly truth”.  In this episode, the ugly truth is revealed.  Uprooted as if buried in a deep abyss, each member of the Greenleaf family must face it. There are no more excuses or lies that can act as an alibi.

The fatal shooting of David Nelson causes security concerns for parishioners and church leadership.  Church leadership is left to answer the question of whether to bear arms or not to bear arms on church property.  Unable to come to a consensus, Noah provides an alternative that is well received – a church security seminar.

Out of respect for David Nelson’s memorial services Grace has delayed her plan to expose Robert to her family and authorities.  Noah seeks to obtain Grace’s timeline to drop her bombshell so that he can prepare Isabel.  Grace offers to delay her timeline again out of respect for Noah’s nuptials.  However, she quickly learns that she is not able to honor her promise.

Isabel apologizes to Grace for being unfriendly and insecure.  After leaving Grace’s office, Isabel returns to Noah’s office and asks him if he slept with Grace.  When Noah fails to answer the question Isabel calls to the wedding off.  Noah confronts Grace about Isabel’s questioning and Grace professes her innocence.

Charity suspects that Kevin is having an affair with another woman.  He is rarely home proclaiming to be at the gym or taking a run.  When he is at home he is glued to his phone.  While performing a duet with Carlton, Charity breakdown into tears.  Carlton offers her comfort as Charity shares her suspicions.

Later, Charity is attempting to talk with Kevin but he is focused on his phone.  A frustrated Charity confronts Kevin and demands to see what is on his phone.  Kevin professes his love for Charity and the marriage then flips the script making a quick exit.

Robert is about to go on a two-week fishing expedition in Cuba. This forces Grace to take action and she presents the evidence against Robert to her father. Bishop Greenleaf agrees with Grace’s plan to have Robert postpone his vacation and wait until after Noah’s wedding to expose Robert.  Knowing that Robert needs to confess to both the assaults and payoffs Bishop Greenleaf explains to Grace that Lady Mae’s involvement is necessary.

Lady Mae is not convinced by the evidence presented before her and confronts Robert with the allegations. Robert adamantly denies the allegations and takes on the role of a victim. Lady Mae pretends to side with her brother but she is faced with the reality that he is a predator. Bishop Greenleaf speeds up the timeline of justice by going into Robert’s office and pulling a gun on him.

Greenleaf: S1 E8 – “The Whole Book” Synopsis

Isabel and Noah are making final arrangements for the wedding when Grace enters Noah’s office.  Isabel inquiries with Grace about who she would bring as her plus one to the wedding.  Grace indicated that it would be Sophia.  Isabel indicated that she would pray for Grace to find someone on the dance floor.  Isabel exits leaving Grace and Noah to talk.  Grace tells Noah about Robert’s outburst and makes a request that he hack Robert’s computer so that she may investigate to see if she can find any evidence.  She is able to find an address to abortion clinic around the time that Danielle had been molested.

Grace confronts Danielle about the abortion.  Danielle confesses and tells Grace what occurred.  Initially, Robert assisted Janice in a legal matter and continue to check on the family afterward.  Mac offers to teach Danielle to fish when he sexually molested her.  Danielle vowed to remain quiet until she discovered that she was pregnant.  She filed her report with police.  When her mother and Mac found out what she had done that told her to recant her story.  She was taken to Nashville for an abortion.  Janice received one of Lady Mae scholarship as a payoff.

Further research into Lady Mae’s scholarship recipients leads Grace to speak to Darlene about a scholarship for Vida, Darlene’s daughter, to attend beauty school.   There was no application submitted which raised Grace’s suspicions. Darlene indicated that Lady Mae was unaware of what happen and she opted to move on because this is her church home.

Isabel removes her clothes from Noah’s quarters.  Noah pleads with Isabel for some pre-nuptial bliss but Isabel declines leaving Noah feeling amorous. Later, Grace will visit Noah to tell him about the investigation and pours out her true feelings to Noah.  Grace kisses Noah leading them into the bedroom.  When Grace wakes, it is Sunday morning and she needs to get ready for church.

Attempting to sneak in without disturbing anyone, Grace is meet by Lady Mae.  Lady Mae challenges Grace about her intentions to destroy the family and blocking Jacob from being the next successor.  Grace indicates that Jacob was never called to the ministry and interested in pursuing the Minor Leagues until Lady Mae intervene.  Grace stated that the position of pastor is a vocation and not a career.  Lady Mae calls Grace out about her creeping in the house looking like she was “rolled hard and put away wet.”  Lady Mae indicated that she would be mad but simply feels sorry for Grace and that she must be lonely.

When Lady Mae bumps into Noah she attempts to obtain information about Grace.  Instead, Noah informs her that once he is married to Isabel that they will be moving to Denver.  Later, Isabel talks with Lady Mae and confides in her about believing that Noah still carrying a torch for Grace.  Lady Mae reassures her that Noah is happy with her and not Grace.

Charity tells Kevin how she is receiving several messages about Carlton and his husband, Fred, holding hands at church.  Kevin informs her that it is to be expected.  Charity and Kevin walk into an area where the other Greenleaf family members gather awaiting to hear the Grand Jury announcement. The Grand Jury announced that they would not file criminal charges against David Nelson.

Grace follow-up with David and learns that he wants to move to Delaware because of the reaction to the verdict.  Grace encourages him to remain to help with the healing process.  David insists that he believes moving is the best option.  On local news, Pastor Basie Skanks tells news reporters that Calvary’s backing of David Nelson impacted that Grand Jury’s decision not to prosecute.  Bishop Greenleaf pays Pastor Basie Skanks a visit that leads to a biblical scripture match off.  Pastor Skanks inquiries about Bishop Greenleaf’s personal audit.

Robert had traveled to Washington to meet with a friend to stop the personal audit.  He was able to do so successfully and informs Lady Mae via text message.  While Bishop Greenleaf was attempting to place his partial plate in his mouth his hand begins to tremble.  Lady Mae encourages him to share his secret with the rest of the family, especially Jacob who feels he has failed him.

Jacob and Greg meet with Bishop Greenleaf about the broadcasting opportunity.  When Greg’s presentation reveals a nature of greed and ill-conceived notions Bishop Greenleaf rejects the offer infuriating Jacob.

The last scene shows David Nelson arriving at Calvary greeting Grace in the church parking lot.  Kenny Collin’s brother rushes up pushing Grace aside announce that this is for his brother and shot David Nelson.  Noah tackles him to the ground while Grace comes to the aid of David who is laying on the ground bleeding.  Grace calls for bystanders to call for help.  No one calls the police but there are people using their cell phones to record or snap photos of the scene.

Greenleaf: S1 E7 – “One Train May Hide Another” Synopsis

This episode takes us into the day in the life of Robert “Mac” McCready (aka Creepy McCready).  It confirms that without a doubt he is a sexual predator.  On the day that he is set to be Memphis Man of the Year, he must juggle a variety of tasks for the Greenleaf family both professionally and personally.  He is distracted by his obsession with his teenage neighbor, Makayla, and mounting paranoia stemming from the fact that Grace has returned and is currently investigating him.  The McCready patriarch, Henry McCready (aka Seedy McCready), pays unwelcome visits to extort money from Robert triggering the pain and guilt of his mother’s death.

As a result, things begin to unravel and spiral out of control.  Robert makes a critical error leading auditors to focus on Bishop Greenleaf’s personal income.  The threat of this investigation causes Bishop Greenleaf to rebuke Robert giving him 24 hours to resolve before informing Lady Mae.  Suspecting that Grace influenced auditors he confronts Grace demanding to know what she had done threaten her to stay out of his way.  Once learning that Grace was responding to an inquiry from the auditor for a personal matter, Robert realizes he has made another critical error revealing that he does have something to hide.

When Robert refuses to advocate for Jacob and promote Jacob’s business plan to get Bishop Greenleaf back on television, Jacob offends him by reminding him how Bishop Greenleaf forgive him in lieu of Faith’s sexual molestation allegation.  Jacob would apologize later.

Robert warns Charity against hiring Carlton C. Cruise, who has sued his last two employers for wrongful termination.  He recommends that he is hired as an independent contractor, but Charity champions for Carlton to be hired as a W2 employee entitling him to benefits.

Pastor Thomas Sneed solicits Robert’s help in obtaining tickets for the Man of Year event.  Robert directs him to see his secretary.

Robert goes to Noah’s office to have Noah address the breach of security protocols.  When he approaches Noah’s office he overhears Isabel and Noah arguing about an $800 cake for their wedding.  Robert informs Noah that Seedy got in and asked Noah to ensure his staff was updated. Robert attempts to set the record straight with Noah believing that Grace has told him about the bad blood between them.  Noah denies any knowledge of what Robert is talking about.  Later, Robert contacts Isabel offering to purchase the cake of her choice as a wedding gift.

Robert encounters Zora and Sophia waiting for Pastor Ramona so they could assist with a food drive.  The girls both ask theological questions about whether Jesus actual died then rose from the dead and the existence of Hell. His interaction with Zora and Sophia makes Sophia view Robert in a more positive light.

His submission to their father’s extortion infuriates Lady Mae.  We are left to wonder if Robert has lost his allies.Throughout his day, he is fixated on a picture in a classic portraits book.  His fixation with the picture shows us that he has a type.  The picture is of a woman that resembles both Makayla and Sophia.  We learn how he operates and gains the trust of an unsuspecting Makayla .  Makayla is a troubled teen with a parent that struggles with mental illness and alcohol abuse.  She is often alone and apparently suicidal.  This episode starts with a dream sequence of Robert and Makayla in the bed together and ends with Robert luring Makayla into his condo.

Television Review: “The Preachers” Talk Show

There is a new, unprecedented talk show that airs live daily (Monday through Friday) on Fox entitled, “The Preachers.”  The hosts consist of four well-known African-American male preachers of megachurches including Pastor Jamal Bryant, Associate Pastor John Gray, Pastor Orrick Quick, and Pastor E. Dewey Smith. The title of the show, “The Preachers,” is a misnomer because the panel discussions cover a wide range of topics.  The show begins with the preachers praying and ends with a segment called “90 Seconds of Hope.”  The last segment is a sermonette addressing a topic discussed earlier in the show.

The show is airing live for a three-week daily (Monday through Friday) trial period. There is comradery amongst the preachers providing a good dynamic.  There is no competition or upstaging between the panel members as they share their different viewpoints.   The foursome endeavors to engage all people in open, honest conversations on a variety of topics mixed with humor.  They do not seek to condemn, judge, or lecture their guest(s).  Thus far, they have been objective and respectful of their guest(s) whose views may differ from Christian doctrine.

Due to the uniqueness of the show, the producers along with the hosts are still trying to find the proper blueprint that will allow them to build quality content.  It is evident that are not shy about discussing hot button issues.  To date, the panel has engaged in topics including medicinal marijuana usage, open marriages, and the Black Lives Matter movement.  They have featured celebrity guest including Tichina Arnold, Monique, and Sherri Shepard.

There are mixed reviews from the viewing public.  Proponents of the show find it humorous, refreshing, and entertaining.  However, only in its first week of airing both the hosts and the talk show has fallen under scrutiny.  There are some who criticize the foursome’s responses to the worldly views and alternate lifestyles of their guest(s).  Pastor Bryant’s response to an open marriage segment featuring comedian and actress, Monique, along with her husband raised some eyebrows.  Bryant, whose infidelities lead to the demise of his marriage, jokingly commented that he had an open marriage, but his ex-wife was not aware.  Critics have raised the question, “Should this show be broadcasted on the Fox network?”

I believe that this show will draw the Spiritual but not Religious (SBNR), the disenfranchised, and the excommunicated to watch because it is not the typical religious programming.  I believe that honesty and transparency of each host along with their testimonies makes them relatable.  The show is not a worship services with an altar call emitting a fire and brimstone hellbound message.  It is a talk show consisting of wonderfully flawed men who are not ashamed to admit that they need God in their lives.

Greenleaf: S1 E2 – “The Baptism” Synopsis

Her initial plans for a two-day visit to pay her respects to her sister, Faith (Terri Abney) have evolved into remaining in Memphis permanently.  Grace is giving up her life in Phoenix, Arizona and an extraordinary opportunity with 20/20 to return to Memphis.  What is motivating Grace (Merle Dandridge) to remain in Memphis, Tennessee?  Is she driven to investigate the mysterious death of her sister, Faith?  Is she acknowledging a second chance in taking down a sexual predator?  Is it about reconnecting with her roots, faith, and family?  Grace’s decision to stay is under scrutiny by some of her family members, namely Kerissa Greenleaf (Kimberly Hawthorne, Sophia Greenleaf (Desiree Ross), and Robert “Mac” McCready (GregAlan Williams).

Grace’s sister-in-law, Kerissa, believes that Grace is a threat to her husband, Jacob Greenleaf (Lamman Rucker), ascendancy as the next overseer of Calvary Fellowship World Ministries.  Kerissa endeavors to discredit the “Prodigal Daughter” to ensure Jacob is the next bishop.  On the other hand, Jacob is preoccupied by his extramarital affair with Alexa Campbell (Kristen Erickson). Grace’s daughter, Sophia, is experiencing problems adjusting to her new surroundings and new school is surrendering to peer pressures greatly encouraged by her Ritalin sniffing cousin Zora Greenleaf (Lovie Simone).  Grace’s uncle, Robert, probably has the most concern about Grace’s return.  Over 20 years ago, Faith confided in Grace that she was sexually abused at the hand of Robert repetitively over several years. Grace supported her sister and informed her parents.  When confronted by her parents, Faith recanted the story. Is Grace prepared to prove Robert is a sexual predator?

Grace secretly begins her investigation into her Uncle Mac’s (GregAlan Williams) activities. Grace’s aunt, Mavis McCready (Oprah Winfrey) provides Grace with her starting point – a police report from a teenage girl named Danielle Turner (Carlacia Grant) accusing Robert McCready of sexually molesting her.  However, Danielle recanted her story three days later.  Grace’s attempt to speak with Danielle are stopped by Janice Turner, Danielle’s mother, who insists that nothing happened to her daughter sending Grace away.  Janice immediately notifies Robert McCready of Grace’s visit.  Meanwhile, Grace solicits advice from Noah Kendall (Benjamin Patterson), the Greenleaf Estate Manager and Grace’s former love interest.

Grace (Merle Dandridge) is also trying to get acclimated to her new role as Response Pastor. (The Response Pastor is responsible for responding to the needs of parishioners and directing them to appropriate services.)  Grace’s first official duty as Response Pastor is to meet with Betty Wilcox, a member of the Bishop’s Round Table.  (To be a member of the Bishop’s Round Table a person gives $10,000 or more over their tithe.  Bishop Greenleaf encourages Grace to be “nice” to Ms. Wilcox) Ms. Wilcox is requesting the immediate baptism of her grandchild without her grandchild’s parents being present.  Grace responds to voicemail from David Nelson (Deji LaRay), a church member who is a police officer accused of killing an unarmed African-American teenage boy.

Bishop Greenleaf has both internal and external pressures building.  Bob Banks, Tennessee Senator, has requested that Bishop Greenleaf voluntarily releases the financial records of the church.  The Senate is launching an inquiry on Calvary Fellowship World Ministries and other large religious institutions to determine whether these entities are taking an unfair advantage of their tax-exempt status bilking the government out of billions of dollars.  Bishop Greenleaf continues to stonewall this request.  Bishop Greenleaf shifts pastoral roles giving Grace Jacob’s old position and placing Jacob over the Deacon Board.  However, Deacon Connie Sykes (Jan Harper) and the rest of the Deacon Board wants Bishop Greenleaf to address and answer their concerns directly.

Grace’s youngest sister, Charity Greenleaf – Satterlee (Deborah Joy Winans), is excited about starting a family with her husband, Kevin Satterlee (Tye White).  Kevin invites a homeless outreach group to use the church facilities and supplies a few days a week.  It would appear that Kevin has other motives when interacting with the handsome homeless outreach coordinator.

This episode leaves us to ponder the following:

How will Robert take care of it?

Does Kevin want to start a family for the right reasons or to hide his same-sex attraction?

How far will Sophia go to fit in with her peers?

Is Grace using her investigation to rekindle her relationship with Noah?

Stay Tuned. #OWN #Greenleaf #SatanYourNotGoingtoWin

Greenleaf: S1 E1 – “A Time to Heal” Synopsis

Warning:      This review contains spoilers. 

Grace “Gigi” Greenleaf  (Merle Dandridge) was once a prominent preacher who vacated her calling to pursue a career in journalism.  The untimely and mysterious death of her sister, Faith Greenleaf  (Terry Abney), ushers her return to the Greenleaf mansion after 20 years for a two-day visit. Accompanied by her teenage daughter, Sophia Greenleaf (Desiree Ross), Grace travels to the Greenleaf mansion for the private funeral service for Faith.

Warmly received by her father, Bishop James Greenleaf (Keith David), as the “Prodigal Daughter,” it is evident that she is still considered the “Black Sheep” of the family by her other family members.  Bishop Greenleaf makes several blatant attempts to convince Grace to stay in Memphis as a member of his ministerial staff.  Each attempt that he makes fuels long-standing tensions and sibling rivalries.

Grace reconnects with the “Other Black Sheep” of the Greenleaf family, her aunt, Mavis McCready (Oprah Winfrey).  Mavis and Grace are natural allies because they are both outsiders. Their trip down memory lane leads to a conversation to Robert “Mac” McCready (GregAlan Williams), Mavis’s brother. Over 20 years ago, Faith confided in Grace that their Uncle Mac had been sexually abusing her for several years, but later recanted her story.  Mavis informs Grace of the most recent reports indicating that Uncle Mac may still be molesting underage girls.  Mavis gives Grace a mission to right wrongs and stops Robert before someone else is harmed.

The next day, Grace attends Sunday Worship Service with the family.  During the altar call, Grace has a “Come to Jesus” moment and meets her father at the altar much to his delight.  Later, Grace calls Mavis and promises her that she will not leave like she did before.

This episode gives us insight into the Greenleaf dysfunctional family dynamic.  It explores the vulnerabilities and ambitions of each member of the family.  Questions to ponder as the series moves further:

  1. Did Grace decide to stay to investigate the murder of her sister, identify a way to stop her uncle, and/or she truly felt the touch of God return to her post?
  1. Does Mavis have a hidden agenda and is manipulating Grace to accomplish her mission?
  1. Did Faith actually commit suicide or was it a murder made to look like a suicide?
  1. Is Robert connected to Faith’s death?
  1. What caused the long-standing tensions between siblings?
  1. How will Bishop Greenleaf resolve both his internal and external pressures?

I am definitely intrigued.  Stay tuned!

#OWN #Greenleaf #SatanWeGonnaTearYourKingdomDown

Greenleaf: OWN’s Megachurch Drama Series Initial Review

Greenleaf is a new American drama appearing on the OWN network.  During its premiere with over 3.04 million viewers watching, Greenleaf made history ranking No. 1 for the most viewership during a series debut on the network. The notable acting performances of Merle Dandridge, Lynn Whitfield, and Keith David have received high praises.   Craig Wright created the series.  Oprah Winfrey, Clement Virgo, and Lionsgate Television are the executive producers.  Clement Virgo also serves as one of the directors and Oprah Winfrey portrays a reoccurring cast member, Mavis McGready.

What is it about Greenleaf that attracts so many viewers?  It is a perfect combination of marketing, the cast of renowned actors, an awesome soundtrack, and a plot that is both suspenseful and dramatic.  Greenleaf opens the door allowing viewers to peer into the lives of the affluential and powerful African-American dynasty of the Greenleaf family and its extensive megachurch predominantly serving African-American members in Memphis, Tennessee.

As we step through the doors to get a better view, we can see the cracks in the façade of the highly favored servants of God, namely the Greenleaf family.  The corruption, debauchery, and the entanglements into webs of deception are oozing through the cracks.  Blood and DNA are not the ties that bind this family. Nor is it their religious beliefs or doctrines.  It is their individual and collective secrets that they try to conceal.

The Greenleaf family built their dynasty upon a foundation of selfishness using the form of godliness as walls with their pride as a rooftop.  The Greenleaf dynasty is nothing more than a den of iniquity. The Greenleaf theme song entitled, “Satan, We’re Gonna Tear Your Kingdom Down,” performed by Pastor Shirley Caesar acts as a precursor to the imminent destruction of the Greenleaf dynasty.

In Genesis 18:16-33, Abraham makes his petition known to God by interceding on behave of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Abraham kept pressing God while questioning God’s justice and mercy for the righteous amongst the wicked. The writers have provocatively put the viewing audience in Abraham’s shoes making us ponder whether there is one righteous amongst the Greenleaf family. Will any of the members of the Greenleaf family turn from their wicked ways, repent, and ask for God’s forgiveness? Stay tuned as the story unfolds on OWN.

Five Keys to Dealing with Depression

Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D., author of “Five Keys to Dealing with Depression,” creates a framework for the reader to identify the key indicators of depression in laymen’s terms.   He also provides a list along with an explanation of how certain medical and health conditions can make one susceptible to depression or depression-like symptoms.  Jantz employs a “whole person” approach recovery methodology. This approach consist of five aspects: intellectual, emotional, relational, spiritual, and physical.  As each aspect of the “whole person” approach is explored, the contrast between balance and unbalance is emphasized.

Throughout this publication, there are sidebars that contain Bible passages with an insert of reassurance of God’s love and promises.  Some of these sidebars are used to remind the reader of God’s commandments regarding our conduct as Christians.  Scenario based examples are utilized to illuminate patterns, behaviors, frequency, and severity.  Jantz suggests a variety of activities to counteract the imbalances.  He does not suggest that medication is not an option, but remarks that studies reveal the healing process improves significantly when therapy is accompanied with medication.

I believe the book serves well from a self-awareness perspective.  I was disappointed that the sidebars were not expounded upon more.  This book is primarily focused on depression and its symptoms with common suggestions to counteract negative behavior.  It is not a book on how to deal with depression from a scriptural viewpoint. Any spiritual content utilized is more of a sidebar or afterthought.  I believe I would appreciate the book more if there was a marriage of godly principles and common counteractive methods interwoven throughout the book.

This book is ideal for those who may show signs of depression and is useful in identifying key indicators of depression.  Because it offers helpful insight it could be used as a resource for supporting those exhibiting behavioral patterns of depression.

Product Review: Your New Name in Christ – 50 Names for Believers

Co-authors, David Laity and Len Woods, have written a pamphlet entitled, “You New Name in Christ”.   This appears to be an appendage to the pamphlet entitled, “Who am I in Christ”.  There are thirteen pages of content exploring the names attribute to Believers.  For each name there is a Scriptural Reference, meaning, insight, and additional supporting passages.

This publication can initiate transformation of our minds concerning how we view ourselves and how God views us. Regardless to what others may have said or how one views themselves, now there is comforting notation about our true identity in Christ.  Imagine what dormant talents, gifts, and skills we might discover based upon uncovering our true identifies.

There is some history provided on some of the most common names applied to Believers.  The word “Christian” is only used three times in the Bible and was initially used in a scornful manner towards Believers.  This publication also includes “Discussion Questions” challenging readers to examine the names in depth by looking through the lens of how God sees his children.  Although this pamphlet is introductory in nature, it is ideal to have for personal, small group, Bible Study, or Sunday School.

Product Review: 50 Christian Symbols & Their Meanings

The idea of creating a visual designs to represent concepts, ideologies, organizations, or something abstract is centuries old.  We are dependent upon symbols to convey warning, authenticity, emotions, affiliations, and organizations.

Jessica Curiel, author of “50 Christian Symbols & Their Meanings”, explores popular and commonly known Christian symbols providing their meaning and history.  According to Curiel, Christian symbols are used do denote people as Believers or Followers of Christ, aid in Worship, and act a reminders to biblical truths. Christian Symbols are not limited to objects, but include Christograms (monograms denoting Christ) or Christian and Biblical imagery.

As with the symbols that we use in social media and texting, some of them have multiple meanings based upon time period and culture.  For example, in the Bible the rainbow represents God’s covenant not to send a worldwide flood again.  However, the rainbow has been adopted by different demographics to denote proponents of diversity.  In times of persecution, the Christian Fish was used by Christian to discreetly identify other Believers.  A Believer would draw half of the Christian Fish in the dirt if the other person knew the symbol they would complete the drawing.

This publications does not provide an exhausted list of Christian symbols but highlights the most properly ones.  This pamphlet is ideal to teach new Believers about Christian Symbolism.  I would like to see more on this topic. I would recommend it for small group or Sunday School.