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Posted Nov. 15, 2012

T.D. Jakes’ “Let It Go” Is Not the Usual ‘Forgive and Forget’ Yak

By Arelya J. Mitchell


Even if you are an atheist, you can learn to “Let It Go”. That’s the utilitarian upshot of Bishop T.D. Jakes’ latest bestseller, “Let It Go”.


As a disclaimer, let me say that I am a long-time fan of Bishop T.D. Jakes in spite of my by-the-book United Methodist upbringing. I was introduced by an ex-friend to the Bishop’s sermons via TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network). When I heard that first sermon back in the 90s, I remember remarking to myself: “That’s a dangerous man.”



Dangerous, but not in a negative way. Let me clear that up now before the S.W.A.T. team is called out. Dangerous in the sense that Jakes had a charisma that could ‘move’ listeners. Over the years his followers have swelled to millions worldwide.


I would venture to say that many do not realize that in the African American community, the minister not only serves as a religion leader but also as a civic activist. The most effective ones preach faith coupled with a definitive philosophy. They could very well be described as modern Philosopher Kings; thus, it is this part of them that gives them political clout in much the same way as Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates who became involved in and embroiled in their own modern secular world. When they spoke, people listened and followed. This gift of communication, a purview of their thinking outside the box, made them dangerous men and popular icons.

With his ministry, Jakes has amassed an energized world-wide following in much the same manner Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. acquired in the 1960s. How? Both began with a definitive philosophy entrenched in both Christianity and secularism; yet they managed to bring both together to solve problems that affect the individual and the collective (the latter as in socio-economic.). How? Because Jakes like King is saying something that transcends race, color, sex-- and yes-- even creed. They have universal appeal, and I have no apologies for comparing Jakes to King no more than I have in comparing Frederick Douglass who lived under slavery to W.E.B. Du Bois who lived under segregation.  Because, one has to place leaders in the times in which they lived and on what terms they chose to deal with those times. That’s the true equalizer; the true measurement of influence.  Each man defines his own times on his own terms.


If you were to listen, “Let It Go” is multi-layered very much in the same vein as Jakes’ sermons. Even Oprah recently became enamored of him after revealing that she thought he was going to be the usual stereotyped hell-and-brimstones preacher. Only after her good buddy, Tyler Perry (of the Mudear movie fame) dragged her to a service at

Jakes’ Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas did she find herself intrigued by this preacher who happens to be a modern Philosopher King.  Eventually, she interviewed him in a one-on-one on her Oprah: Next Chapter and later had him as one of the main life coach speakers on her Life Classes, both on her OWN network.


            Jakes is a dangerous man.


            His popularity and writing skills rest on his ability to break down a simple or complex thought from a Christian point of view to a secular P.O.V. and stitch both viewpoints together to achieve yet another level.  This is what he does with the concept of forgiving and forgiveness to arrive to the conclusion that “letting go” of hurt feelings, grudges, revenge, wrongs is the most logical and reasonable way towards achieving a more healthy, emotional and spiritual life. Yeah, yeah, I know. We’ve all heard that line before, but not the way Jakes presents it.


            Jakes is not so naive to think that forgiving is easy (I think of that ex-friend of mine) or that you will never forget the alleged wrong or downright ‘real’ wrong done to you. What Jakes is advocating (preaching) is freedom. And when you think long and hard about it, freedom is one of the main tenets and tensions of government, religion, and the individual human being -- with one of those examples reaching all the way back to the Hebrews escaping Pharaoh who had to learn to ‘let it go’ as in “let my people go,” all of which epitomized that duality of freedom and religion; freedom and government. 


 I would be so bold to assert that every war (conflict) has been fought for the sake of freedom, stemming from somebody’s un-forgiveness going from individual to individual (e.g. I and my ex-friend); to family and family (e.g. Hatfields and McCoys); civil war and genocide (e.g. sections of the same nation fighting among themselves); to world wars and official conflicts (e.g. World War II and Afghanistan Conflict). As the late Rodney King would say, “Can’t we all just get alone?”


            Philosopher King Jakes delves into this freedom aspect with anecdotes, his personal life lessons, business decision-making, and just plain everyday relationships.

            In our conflicts (wars) in life, Jakes breaks down what he calls the “Wounded Warriors” into three categories: 1. insulator; 2. isolator; and 3. inhibitor.

            In setting up his premise before categorizing the warriors, he states: “Most people who have been injured in some way react to that wounding by unconsciously wounding others.”

            Jakes expounds: “So when we are looking at the re-injury of a past wound…the process takes longer as the person senses a pattern in their own life that makes them question their own judgment.” Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Thus, begins the dilemma of forgiving others and oneself. The stalemate doesn’t stay ‘stale’; instead, it festers and becomes mobile. It transcends time and place. It puts that proverbial chip on your shoulder. It puts you on a path of rocky unending detours.


As stated earlier, in Bishop T. D. Jakes’ case the ‘danger’ is a positive one and can be best demonstrated by the Chinese character which symbolizes ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’ as being one in the same. In other words, where there is danger there is also opportunity.


In “Let It Go,” Jakes philosophizes that forgiveness is an opportunity to advance freedom beyond acting and re-acting (perpetual conflict, seesawing between war and peace, retaliation vs. more retaliation). It is the opportunity to seize the moment to get peace of mind if not altogether a ‘total peace’. This peace of mind state is substantive and pragmatic if not angelic. Forgiveness gets you to a place where you are ‘free’ to move on, to utilize your time on Earth as productively as possible. Of course, if you’re an atheist, peace on Earth should be right up your alley.

As for that ex-friend, it’s now easier for me to ‘let it go’. 

“Let It Go” is worth your investment and a place on your personal library shelf.



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