Lifestyles of the Rich & Godly: The Message Behind “Preachers Of LA”
Like most TV fanatics, I am always on alert for new shows on the horizon, and now that Reality TV has become standard programming, the main issue is keeping up with the growing schedules and new additions.
When I heard that Oxygen was doling out a new show titled “Preachers of LA,” I have to admit that I was inherently skeptical. I lived in Los Angeles for almost two years during my temporary hiatus from New York City, and I remember how all the clichés I heard and read about were readily manifested; the superficiality, the sense of detachment from reality, and the weathered insecurities that forced people into an alternate universe. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved my newfound city and still go back for yearly visits, but I know exactly what I am getting into when the plane touches down on the runway.
So with that in mind I couldn’t help but wonder if some of the spherical themes would bleed into a show that depicts high-profile pastors thriving in the City of Angels. After taking in the first episode I am convinced that “Preachers of LA” should be a case study of what the modern day ministry really looks like.
The premise of the show is pretty straightforward; we are introduced to a group of pastors who have answered the call to shepherd churches strewn all over the LA area. The goal is to give viewers the opportunity to witness these men of God juggle their saintly responsibilities and the every day hassles that ultimately humanizes us.
While I was impressed with the level of influence these chosen few have garnered from their legions of followers, especially with Deitrick Haddon, the youngest of the group who has managed to seamlessly merge his rock star tendencies with evangelical duties, I was a quite dismayed at the level of opulence on display.
The underlying message of the show seems to border on the idea that just because you are a servant of God doesn’t mean that you can’t revel in the earthly gifts that are bestowed upon you as a reward for your sacrificial penance.
As a child who grew up in a household that demanded my participation in religious exercises and church attendance, I was taught that the riches of the world could never compare to the jewels we would claim once we made it to heaven. Simply put, our objective as believers is to focus on our spiritual growth and not on our bank accounts, because we can’t take those with us when we transcend to the kingdom of God.
So why are we constantly being pummeled with messages from evangelists who have somehow become famous through their trade that wanting to be wealthy and successful is nothing to be ashamed of but rather a concept to embrace? Could it be because it’s their way of making themselves shed the guilt they should rightfully feel for having succumbed to the money that is supposed to be the root of all evil?
There is nothing wrong with enjoying the fruits of your success, we all work hard for reasons besides fulfilling our quotas, and it’s only fair that we have some level of comfort to substantiate our relentless ambitions. But somehow when this formula is related to the business of religion it reeks of misconduct and distrust.
In these times of uncertainty and global unrest, having a reality show about preachers spreading the word to help fuel believers and convert unbelievers sounds like an awesome idea. But when it is masked under the disguise of money, power, gold chains and imposing mansions, it reveals a deep disconnect within a system that is supposed to uplift the weary not dominate them.
The ratings have dictated that Preachers of LA might be a hit maker for Oxygen but I wonder how the man upstairs feels about it.