Recently an internet brouhaha erupted when film maker Tyler Perry, attending Bishop T.D. Jakes’ MegaFest Convention in Dallas, Texas, made a $1 million contribution to a proposed youth center. During the unplanned presentation, Tyler claimed God spoke to him to prompt the gift, spoke in “tongues” himself, and eventually spoke a blessing over Bishop Jakes while laying hands on Jakes.
As might be imagined, opinions came fast and furious, some supportive and others critical. I missed all the initial responses due to travel. That’s just as well because now that the dust has settled a little bit better reflection has a chance to emerge. And that’s precisely what I think we find in this engaging discussion between Marc Lamont Hill (host); Princeton professor of religion and African-American studies, Dr. Eddie S. Glaude; Jakes biographer and associate professor of sociology at the University of Houston, Dr. Shayne Lee; and Washington Post columnist, Rahiel Tesfamariam.
What I enjoyed about their discussion was their ability to critically evaluate and disagree while being civil, clear and incisive. In its loving but critical engagement, this interview represents a rare engagement with the Black Church without resulting to romanticism or caricature. The interview is a valuable examination of some quarters of the Black Church and of the intermingling of religion, commerce, entertainment, and politics. It’s also a window into a long-running dispute about elitism and populism in determining the course of Black culture and life.
Take a look and join us on the front porch with your thoughts and questions.