By the time you get to the last word of this blog post, those who really know me will be thinking “oh no – she didn’t! There goes that Woodard girl”. To fully understand my back story, you can read “The Early Years” one of my first blog posts. Summed up in a sentence – I grew up in a sleepy homogeneous New England town. Very homogeneous. I am the whitest girl of all Anglo-Saxon’s anywhere. Now that we have cleared that up, there is no racial chip on my shoulder. What initiated my thought process around this specific blog post is a rebroadcast of Jase & Missy Robertson’s K-LOVE radio interview about abstinence before marriage. I listened to it, ironically on Martin Luther King day. Why is that ironic? Just keep reading!
I have a habit of saving pod casts, television shows and e-books for times when I travel by air or car. I must have saved the above mentioned radio interview during my research on Duck Dynasty. I live in the South and had no idea what this show was and honestly thought it wasn’t real. I had no idea duck calls were such big business, and I am certainly not a fan of facial hair. In fact, I remove it for a living. However, I have a very open mind, and had to research this show since social media outlets were on fire about their show as well as the fact that Wal-mart dedicates and entire aisle to all of their merchandise. (I tend to be slightly behind when it comes to television shows as they happen. Not only am I too avid a reader to watch a ton of television, I have too little time during the week to tune-in, so I save them up for times I have to be locked into a seat belt). I have a personal rule that I do not watch shows that scare me or “dumb me down” and I am also not the most patient person (gasp!) – so I have a hard time with weekly show cliff hangers. I have been known to watch a season or 8 in one day (Downtown Abbey, Suits, Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, etc). Duck Dynasty will probably never reign as one of my top-10 shows, but there are parts of the show that are hilarious as well as puzzling. I think Willy is a marketing genius and his problems with motivating his staff are so easy to relate to. Here is a link to the interview:
I am sure the purpose of the video was to contain positive family building content, and I do think it does that, however, it had the exact opposite effect on me. Since this blog post will lack photo’s and some of you may be uncomfortable reading the content, copy and paste the link below and allow it to repeat with your speakers on for the duration of your reading.
Like most of my thoughts – they are normally complex and somewhat-all-over the place so I’ll do my best to organize. As I listened to Jase and Missy talk, I was quite sad over my own realization that the public’s response to the Robertson family, their reality show and the very fact that they are millionaires is overwhelmingly positive (and yes, their wealth is flaunted on their show) – yet, the response to the Murfreesboro, TN filmed reality show about the Tankard family “Thicker Than Water” is not. Why? Why would one family be regarded so well in spite of their obvious success and another somewhat frowned upon? WHY does the world have a problem with Pastoral families having money? What is the issue? Perhaps more families would go into ministry and missions if they weren’t overly pressured into feeling bad about any success they have. Before anyone justifies in their mind that this is not truly a belief, Yes, they are. I can give many examples – from living all over the world – but a couple of local examples are:
People are uncomfortable with the “showy-ness” of World Outreach Church. I have heard it all – they are too big, they spend too much money on their facility, they pay for headliners to come into the community – meaning their members simply have to be entertained. Personally, I think it’s brilliant. Name another church that brings thousands and thousands to the Word? So many of our community leaders attend this church – they are also quietly the medical directors (for free) of local pregnancy support centers, hold leadership positions in many areas and volunteer many hours in the community. They bring a much needed piece of light to the business world. If you are not comfortable with the size of the church, then leave it at that, there is no need to justify your decision further. Carry on Word Outreach Church – carry on!
I participated in a local program (let’s keep it anonymous) and another participant was a Preacher. Other participants commented on the very fact that he was a preacher and drove a nice car. I do not think this needs any more explanation, but I went away from those comments thinking that they would be much happier if he barely drove away in a car older than them. Realistically, if we compare building a Kingdom in today’s world – who would want to attend a church where everyone is barely surviving? Keep it real, people.
Before moving on, in almost every scenario – “church people” lash out and say that God himself instructs His people to live a humble life. I can not argue with that, but I think “humble” lends itself to interpretation. Apparently, to those uncomfortable with a pastoral families success, they mean “give it all away, prosper those who are sitting at home while they work, and for crying out loud, please don’t show the world that Christians can be successful”. In my personal experience people who say this the most are those that have less money than they do. Which translates to “you can’t be a Christian if you have more money than me”. This is jealousy. Jealousy is a sin. Most will also question my knowledge of the Bible in a “bless her heart” undertone. Review: there are parts of the bible, specifically the Old Testament that are simply incredible atrocities. In the Bible, words having to do with killing significantly outnumber words having to do with love – yet, the Greatest of these is Love. Imagine the problems we would have today if we literally applied the book of Genesis alone to the way we live? (God’s arbitrary preference of Abel’s offering to that of Cain’s provokes Cain to commit the first biblically recorded murder and kill his brother Abel; The Israelites kill Hamor, his son, and all the men of their village, taking as plunder their wealth, cattle, wives and children; God is unhappy with the wickedness of man and decides to do something about it. He kills every living thing on the face of the earth other than Noah’s family and thereby makes himself the greatest mass murderer in history & God personally sees to it that Lot’s wife is turned to a pillar of salt (for having looked behind her while fleeing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah)). Feeling the Love? Perhaps these situations become problems because they are inherent in a literalist or fundamentalist interpretation. Some of the selections may be resolvable on certain interpretations–after all, almost any problem can be eliminated with suitable rationalizations–but it is your obligation to test this possibility and to decide whether it really makes appropriate sense to do these things today. I presented the examples above where problems may exist given certain allowable (but not always obligatory) assumptions. It should be kept in mind that a perfect and omnipotent God could, should, and likely would see to it that such problems did not exist in a book which he had inspired. It should also be kept in mind that what is and is not an atrocity is to some extent a matter of opinion. So many who sling such words put God in a very small box.
Obviously I struggle with this – so someone please – help me! I adore lists, so let’s review some observations and thoughts, list-like.
1. Before addressing more of the specifics relating to the show, I’ll take some time to address that the highly emotionally charged Trayvon Martin case brought up a lot of the same emotions for me and I think this is a compilation of my experiences, thoughts and perspective. They aren’t really open to hate-mail opportunities. It makes me slightly insane when America brags that we have come “so far” with civil rights. Really? The specter of racism still lingers, it has simply taken on new forms since the mid-20th century. What we used to know as racism, has thankfully/mostly died. My Princess Katherine can legally sit on any public transportation with her good-pal Lorin, and it is no longer polite conversation in white society to speak negatively about black people as a race. Praise God! Aside from the fact that true racism that will literally only die off with the older generations for whom racism was normative (and I believe this is what Oprah was trying to say) – what we have traditionally called racism has likely receded to as low a level as we will ever see it in our lifetime. Unfortunately, there will always be, and there always have been, people who see their own people group as superior. Xenophobia is a natural human tendency which has plagued every era since the dawn of man. I can recall a few instances where accusations of racism were slung at me personally and/or professionally if an employee I supervised was disciplined by me and they were not white. Fortunately, they fell flat or got lost in translation. Not only because it was simply not true – but because I have African-American friends whom I genuinely love, appreciate and call family. My home has been described in the past as the United Colors of Benetton and – I LOVE it. I believe in the traditional sense of racism, most people aren’t racist. The temptation is to think that because we no longer discriminate solely on race, we have won the war on racism. Mission accomplished. Wrong. We are fooling ourselves if we think we have achieved racial equality or eliminated racial prejudice. We have a long way to go and a lot of work to do along the way. However, we can’t continue with the same strategies that worked in combating racism as we once knew it. Because of our national fascination with crime, the Trayvon Martin case became a sensation with sociological impact. This same situation happens in cities across America, every day but are local stories. It’s a tragedy, of course. Regardless of the narrative that saw Trayvon as an aggressor or the one that saw George Zimmerman as a vigilante, it was an event in a small town in northern Florida. The situation was terrible, and we should mourn the loss of life. When stories like the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case polarize the nation, we should be exploring why and not the color of skin.
2. I mentioned Xenophobia above and I think most logically thinking people can understand this. But, what in the world is going on in African-American culture where – for whatever reason, it is acceptable for members of the African-American community to hurl insults at each other? I am so disappointed to see the negative comments on the Thicker Than Water FAN page (review definition of FAN, please). Simple clicks to the profiles of the naysayers and it’s easy to discover that an alarming number of haters of the successful black family – are black. So, here’s the moment of honesty. Why? Is it because African American’s aren’t supposed to be successful? Smart? Live in a nice home that they have worked for? I’m so completely lost here! It is my opinion as well that owners of such profiles should change their employment statuses and try to build their community up rather than tear it down. I know this is nothing new, but with all of this progress – seriously? Maybe I answered it above – are these unhappy people passing judgment because the Tankards have more than they do?
3. I personally experienced racism at it’s finest when I traveled with hands-down the best female surgeon – ever. We were in San Francisco in 2003 and checking in to a posh hotel. We were registered by our names and titles. The hotel staff looked me straight in the face, ignoring her and addressed me as “Doctor”. I had a near come-apart and she was quick to apologize for them that it was no big deal. Yes it is. I didn’t go to jail over that incident, but I could have. I nearly did go to jail three days later when we were trying on clothes in Ann Taylor Loft and the sales girl made a bad judgement call and refused to wait on the good Doctor, but was hands over feet attempting to be helpful to me. I stomped out of the dressing room half-dressed to get her thin beautiful self a smaller size! I allowed said sales girl to ring up a lot of items, then explained to her why she lost that very sale. Both the hotel receptionist and the salesperson were African-American. Unbelievable. STOP IT.
4. I have known the Tankard family for almost all of the years that I have lived in Murfreesboro. Jewel has been a client of mine for almost all of these years. I do not claim to know her fully nor can I figure out how she does all that she does in one day. Other than any service that I perform for her inside my own business, I am not on this families payroll (before you even think this). Why does the relationship between Jewel and I work? Because she asks for advice in my area of expertise and then actually follows it. She brings new ideas and allows me to push boundaries in treating black skin. In my world, treating black skin with laser is like walking a tightrope over the Grand Canyon with no safety net or learning to drive a stick shift on a mountain. I do not recommend attempting to treat her or sell her on a product if you do not know your stuff. Treatment sessions are also normally business development discussions and/or talks of faith. In a time where I was making a huge professional change, in true Jewel fashion – she offered no excuses and no leniency on doing what was right, even though it was a hard decision. The girl makes my professional endurance look like I’m calling shot-gun in the sofa series. It has been said that she is narcissistic. Please review that definition too. Narcissistic people do not financially support local and national charities. They also do not allow their nearing adulthood children to live under their roof and use their resources. Theory denied. Jewel has led more women to financial success than any other woman I have ever personally known. It would be easy enough for her to walk-away from her own and her step-children, but she doesn’t. She has put her family first and her husband first. She’s an entrepreneur and the local community should be thankful that they chose to search for a rather large home that was in foreclosure and costing many local businesses a lot of money. With a simple public records search, you can find that they paid less for Tankard Palace than many of you in ivory towers did for your modest homes. That makes her sensible, not hate-able.
5. The Tankard family, namely Ben Tankard – papa to everyone and Pastor of the Destiny Center Church – does not, repeat after me, does not receive compensation from the congregation. He is a Pastor because he has experienced success and he does not need a salary from the church that he started in his living room. Even if you find a natural tendency to not like the Tankards, use some third grade math. I estimate they have approximately 200 or so members in their church. I am a good a tithing, but 200 of my friends could not solely support the physical church plant, the payroll, the utilities AND the Tankard family. I have two females in my house – they have six. I can not imagine what that costs. Again, simple third grade math. I love how transparent he is – and often he “goes there”. I think the world needs more of this realness that people who have stumbled can see and realize there is hope. Ben is incredibly talented and his gospel Jazz CD’s are in the spa music mix! He still owes me his autograph on his cover of VIP Murfreesboro, but I digress. Ben has over 21 Gold and Platinum Records lining his walls, has earned 13 Stellar Awards, 1 Blue Mic Award, and has multiple Grammy, Dove, and Soul Train Award Nominations and is the best-selling gospel/jazz instrumentalist/artist of all time. Ben has released 19 studio albums and sold over 2 million records worldwide. He also discovered Yolanda Adams. Impressive? Sure – but even more impressive – no lessons ever. Incredible. Why are the Tankards successful? I believe it boils down to extreme faith and focus. My favorite Ben line “There is no Ghetto Heaven”.
6. Those who claim that they will never, ever watch this show, seem to know an awful lot about the show. This means, you’re watching it! Last Sunday, 11/24/13, Thicker Than Water had the following number of viewers according to Nielsen ratings (I believe this is 1.623 million viewers) – just ahead (eek!) of Duck Dynasty. This number represents live viewers – the live plus DVR’d number looks more like 1.86 million. Approximately 28, (as in 28 total, not million) of these viewers are posting repetitive negative comments on fan pages, twitter, etc.
|THICKER THAN WATER||BRVO||9:00 PM||1623|
|DUCK DYNASTY||AEN||10:00 PM||1572|
In close, I do not feel the need to defend the Tankard’s, they do not need my protection – but they will receive it, if it comes into my presence. Wait, I do feel the need to defend Cyrene (the youngest Tankard), first, because I just love this girl. She is one of the sweetest girls ever with a face that lights up when she recognizes people she loves. I adore this quality in her. I have watched her grow up second-hand through her mother, and only recently started to get to know her more personally (these kids grow up and get their own cars!) Second, because she is still in high school and kids and teachers – can be mean. Don’t be mean to my baby! I am like a mother bear, and I have many cubs. They do not all look like me – as a matter of fact – only two look like me. Many of my kids are African-American (shout-out to my loves Justin, Jonathan, Katherine Coryse, Imani, Jerome, Jr and Adonis – kids I could adopt in a minute and love and raise in a way their own mothers would wish), some are Asian, hundreds have little bald-heads. I have been known to show up at schools, doctors offices and hospitals and ask what acceptable culture is at their establishment when a child other than my own by birth has been mistreated. Last, I believe Cyrene has a special light that the world hasn’t even begun to see and I can not wait to see what she does. I believe the Tankards are favored, and I believe you haven’t seen anything yet in this regard. I have said this before, but it’s worth repeating – perhaps those who have more can be trusted with it? It is exhausting to see all the negativity – especially on social media. I am sincerely bothered by all the “Christian’s” who post all the reasons that the Tankard’s can’t be “real Christian’s”. To those (and even those who haven’t posted, spoke it nor printed it – but perhaps have thought it) – I’d like to leave you with a thought to ponder just for a moment and hopefully serve as a gentle reminder. Jesus did not come in like a divine Caucasian police officer and throw all sinners in jail, or take snap shots then pass judgement and move on. He came alongside us, experienced our problems, and attempted in a very short life to teach lessons that would only benefit us, even at the expense of His own life. Be very careful. Do you think your thoughts and actions have accomplished His mission? You really think so?
I outlined above why I think Pastoral families are held in a different regard and although it explains some of the misbehavior, it doesn’t address my original observation. The Robertson family is not a pastoral family, so, is that why America is overwhelming positive about their show, or is it because they are Caucasian and the Tankard’s are not? How disappointed would Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. be? He too, gave his own life.
Links: (all social media clickable from their websites)
Thicker Than Water: http://www.bravotv.com/thicker-than-water
Ben Tankard: http://www.bentankard.org/home.html
Jewel Tankard: http://jeweltankard.org/
Cyrene’s new launch!: http://cyrenelovettelacquers.bigcartel.com/
* I always feel the need for a disclaimer. The Tankard family have not endorsed nor viewed this post before it went live. It is not intended to be their belief nor their words. This is a personal blog and the contents are mine alone. It is not meant to be the works of the Tankard family, Bravo, The Destiny Center, nor any of their present, past or future affiliates.
As usual, you never fail to give a lot to think about, but as usual as well, you’re spot on. You’re definitely correct that racism is alive and well. Anyone who believes differently is either in denial or worse yet uninformed. While it would be easy to blame our news media (all viewpoints, the “left” and the “right” are equally guilty) because they fan the flames of division rather than unity, the problem goes deeper than that. I think part of the problem is the entitlement theory that has permeated our society to the extent that if you have more than me of something I want, you’re evil and/or have received it through some kind of illegal or immoral means because you don’t just hand it over.
We also live in a society that remembers the negative and will apply it like a large paintbrush to any canvas they want. I too don’t understand the negative perceptions behind World Outreach Church. Personally, I don’t attend there not because I have anything against the church or the people attending, it’s my background of being raised as a child in a small church, and that’s what I prefer. But I don’t harbor any ill will toward World Outreach because they host large events, bring in celebrity-type figures, or fill an arena for Easter. It’s actually an accomplishment of the greater mission that we’re all supposed to be a part of, spreading the word. Unfortunately, I think World Outreach may be suffering from something that is beyond their control, the perception that a large church organization must be doing something illegal because it’s so successful (as I call the Jim Bakker-PTL treatment). Yes, Jim Bakker made some mistakes in his life and yes he paid the price for those mistakes. First, show me someone who hasn’t made a mistake in life because I want to meet this person. Second, and more importantly, because one man did something wrong, it doesn’t mean others in a similar profession are all following suit.
I personally have never met the Tankards, but from your comments, they certainly sound like wonderful people. Have they been successful in life? I’d say it appears that way. But instead of envying and belittling that success, I’m happy for them. I’m glad to see someone who has been rewarded for hard work, and I’m glad to see someone who is always willing to give back to the community without any self-interest of receiving accolades or awards for doing so. Does this make them evil? Hardly. Does this make them someone I should denigrate and chastise? Not at all. For me (and I think many others), they should use their example of what a truly successful family looks like, and I’m not talking financial success. I’m talking success as children of God. At the end of the day, none of their material wealth will matter, but when they get to meet Jesus, does anyone doubt He’ll tell each one of them, “well done good and faithful servant”?
As for the Robertsons, I love their show. I love their stance on faith and family. But deep down I know that the first time one of those teenage children does something “teenager-ish”, those in this world that want to tear down anything positive will be like sharks with blood in the water.
Maybe if we tried a little more building up and a little less tearing down things will improve. I’m hopeful of that.