Preacher’s of L.A. is set for a comeback, will probably be here for years, and let me explain why…
One of the perks of being sick is that you get to either catch up on old movies or watch something for the first time. I’m one of those fortunate people that after I watch something brilliant, I obsess over it until I fully understand to the best of my ability the film maker’s vision. After being “over” the many talk shows and the unavoidable glimpses of Maury Povich, I came across a black and white film, with an African American cast called Halleujah!, filmed in 1929. This coupled with watching the tragic tell all story of Natalie Wood, has kept my mind occupied the entire weekend. I’m always fascinated by the creativity that took place in cinema despite limited technical advances, and acting opportunities in the early 20th century. Let me tell you, this film did not disappoint, and is a must see. Even though it was made over 80 years ago, this movie parallels much of the successes and pitfalls that we see in today’s modern church. And furthermore, showcased the ills that continue to plague society; such as violence, the allure of fast money and fast women, and the never ending influx of shady characters to overcome when you are trying to do the right thing. It made me ask the age old question, does art imitate life, or does life imitate art? One has to wonder how much of the film was inspired by church traditions, and how many church traditions were inspired by the film?
This is what stood out in the picture that mirrors today’s society:
- The Pastor discovered God after witnessing a family member become a victim to senseless violence that he helped to cause by engaging in illegal activity.
- When the Pastor accepted salvation he instantly had “swag”. He was no longer the humble and simple share cropper, he was now strong, charismatic, and well dressed. Who knows if this new confidence was due to an awareness of being a child of God, or more of an awareness of the need to use pageantry and tradition?
- He was eventually lured away from his position and his family by an unscrupulous female who thought she was following God, but really was infatuated with the power that came with being romantic with a Pastor. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?
Although the film did contain the deep moments as previously mentioned, I was highly entertained just as much by the spectacle of it all. And it’s not hard to see why today the same topic garners much attention, with the rise of the profession of a Pastor being glamorized, and made into several must watch reality television shows. The progression of the “business of church”, has made many see it’s potential as being very lucrative. It is clear that what is very different from the old church as compared to the modern church is the overt increase of wealth and status of the clergy, which at one time was thought to have been a position one took in servant hood and humility.
There is also a fairy tale or “rags to riches” reference when some people think of today’s popular Pastors. One reason individuals feel like they can identify with them, is because the position looks attainable. You could have had a horrible past, done everything wrong, and it does not eliminate you from achieving that title. In fact, your mistakes often make you relatable to the masses. Once attained, this position is usually influential, can provide a very comfortable lifestyle with adoring fans, and people that want to be associated with you as if you were a rapper or an athlete. Sadly, I have known a few people that had no talent, but decided they could easily look and sound the part of a minister, and would make that their path to money and power- shaking my head.
And, just because of how profitable entertainment through the church is, the Mega hit Preachers of L.A., after much controversy will be returning for a second season with all six original cast members. Again, people couldn’t get enough of the story lines about sex, drugs, and money by way of the church. This is interesting because not all the cast was happy with the way they were perceived on the series. While it has made them more popular secularly, it may have done some damage to their ministerial reputation… but I guess money talks. Plus, the producers of the show are set to create even more spin offs based out of New York and Atlanta. It looks like we as a society will forever be fascinated with this genre that seems so close, yet so very far away. To be honest, I am a fan of a few of the cast members. My only hope that is this time around they show more of the ministering and less of the melodrama, but I doubt it.
Rachel Bryant Lundy