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.

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Greenleaf: S1, E4 – “Behind Closed Doors” Synopsis

What is really happening behind closed doors?  This episode allows the viewing audience to peek through the peephole acting as a silent observer.

There are underhanded deals are being negotiated.

  • A representative from the mayor office solicits Bishop Greenleaf (Keith David) to aid in the controversial “Black Lives Matter” movement that is dividing the public and police department. As an incentive, the land that the Bishop has tried to secure in the past is being offered to him as payment.
  • Someone attempts to blackmail the Greenleaf family demanding a payment of $5000 for photographs of Faith (Terri Abney) in compromising positions. Without involving the police or other Greenleaf family members, Grace (Merle Dandridge) handles the matter herself.

Couples are arguing.

  • Bishop and Lady Greenleaf (Lynn Whitfield) find themselves on the opposite ends of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Lady Greenleaf believes that the church should be standing in support of the Collins family. Bishop Greenleaf has decided to host the “Back to Blue” service in support of the police department.
  • Kerissa and Jacob debate about continuing marriage counseling is a viable option.

There are investigations underway.

  • Grace asks Noah (Benjamin Patterson) to review the video footage for the date of Danielle’s (Carlacia Grant) original complaint. Noah reports that the footage does not contain any useful information. Grace attempts to identify a way to prove that Danielle’s second statement to police is false.
  • Due to his failure to voluntarily supply financial records, Bishop is now facing an audit.

Rebellion is afoot.

  • Sophia devises a plan to participate in the protest rally against her mother’s will.
  • There is mutiny amongst the ranks. The Deacon Board threatens to walk out of services over Bishop Greenleaf’s decision to host the “Back to Blue” service.

Infidelity!

  • Jacob (Lamman Rucker) continues his affair with Alexa.

 Vulnerabilities are exposed.

  • Grace expresses her gratefulness to Noah for being an ally.
  • Jacob bears his soul to his mistress.

Information is shared.

  • Charity tells her mother about her pregnancy.

There is a lot of activity taking place behind closed doors. The activities behind closed doors are usually confidential and not shared with the public.  Yet, the consequences of these activities reach beyond the closed doors.  What will the fallout be?

Stay Tuned!  #Greenleaf #OWNTV #BehindClosedDoors

Greenleaf: S1 E3 – “We Shall See Him As He Is” Synopsis

Kerissa (Kimberley Hawthorne) sets up a dinner date with Fred Williams (L. Warren Young) and his wife Misty (Avis-Marie Barnes) to solidify their ties with the Deacons now that Jacob (Lamman Rucker) is presiding over the Deacon Board.  During dinner, Kerissa promotes Jacob’s preaching philosophy and style. Through the course of the dinner, Fred and Misty become a model for the wholesome, Christian marriage Kerissa desires. The next day, Kerissa suggest to Jacob that they begin marriage counseling, but Jacob dismisses the notion.  Meanwhile, Zora (Lovie Simone) and Sophia (Desiree Ross) participate in a Church Lock-in.  During the Church Lock-in, the teens sneak outside to get high and accidently start a small fire in a receptacle.

Kevin Satterlee (Tye White) works out the logistics with the handsome homeless coordinator for the use of the facilities on Wednesdays and Fridays. There is an obvious unspoken attraction between Kevin and the homeless coordinator.  Later, Kevin and Charity (Deborah Joy Winans) go out for karaoke and drinks.  After returning home, the couple decides to perform a pregnancy test revealing that Charity is indeed pregnant.  As Charity sleeps, Kevin lies awake staring at the positive pregnancy test.  Subsequently, Kevin shares the news of Charity’s pregnancy with the homeless coordinator ending their flirtation.

Grace (Merle Dandridge) accepts a dinner invitation from Noah Kendall (Benjamin Patterson) and his fiancé, Isabel (Anna Diop).  Isabel questions Grace about her motivations for staying in Memphis.  While Isabel is away from the table, Noah apologizes for being a jerk when Grace initially left.  Upon Isabel’s return to the table, Grace receives a call from Danielle Turner (Carlacia Grant), who is responding to an email that Grace sent to her.  Later that night, Grace meets with Danielle at a pizzeria in an attempt to get Danielle to elaborate on her initial complaint against Robert.  Danielle unconvincingly explains that her need for attention caused her to make a false accusation against Robert McCleady. Before leaving the pizzeria, Danielle told Grace to leave her and her family alone.  The next day, Grace meets with Noah to set the record straight and explains the real reason she left 20 years ago.

It is closing time at Mavis’ Beale Street Blues Bar when Robert McCready (GregAlan Williams) pays his sister, Mavis (Oprah Winfrey) an unwelcomed visit.  Robert threatens to use his connections to have Mavis’ bar turned into a historical landmark if she does not persuade Grace to stop investigating him.  Mavis informs Robert that he is going down. Robert responds in maniacal laughter. What will Robert’s next move be?

In this episode, we witness the rekindling of romance between Grace and Noah creating a love triangle.  Since Grace’s arrival at the Greenleaf mansion, there is a noticeable chemistry between Grace and Noah.  Now that Noah knows the real reason for her departure, how will this affect his engagement with Isabel? This episode did not allow us to witness Grace’s full explanation; however, implies that her decision to remain in Memphis relates to investigating Robert’s proclivities.

Although Kevin approached Charity about starting a family, we must question his true inspiration and timing behind it.  Kevin’s same-sex attraction does not mean that he does not love his wife or want to be a father.  Currently, we do not know if Kevin has ever acted on his same-sex attraction.  It would appear that Kevin is not truly comfortable in pursuing his same-sex interest.  Kevin is expressing fear about starting a family.  Is his apprehension natural as a first-time parent or is it concern over his same-sex attraction?

Kerissa’s controlling and narcissistic demeanor negatively impacts her husband and daughter.  Jacob routinely engages in extramarital affairs because he does not feel like a person with a voice in his marriage.  Zora has developed a Ritalin sniffing habit to cope with the pressures of maintaining her grades in a school where her mother is the school principal. Will Kerissa be able to persuade Jacob to participate in marriage counseling?  Will Kerissa be able to see the role that she plays in destroying her marriage?

Stay Tuned! #Greenleaf  #WeShallSeeHim #OWNTV

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.