Faithspotting The Banker

Mike and Kenny discuss the film and faith elements in The Banker, starring Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson and directed by George Nolfi. 

Listen to The Banker episode.

The Banker tells the story of two of America’s most successful Black business men in the 1950’s and 60’s who sought to use their talents and financial success to offer blacks the opportunities to start building generational wealth, something discriminatory laws and customs had prevented in many areas of the country.

Apple TV+

This film offers context to the current conversations and conflicts over race in the United States and other nations. The story of Bernard Garrett and Joe Morris and what they worked to achieve offers a specific example of systemic racism that continues to impact persons and communities of color. The inability, or for some, limited ability to build generational wealth has been perhaps the greatest hurdle for persons of color to acquire the skills and opportunities typically necessary to achieve success similar to much of the white community.

Faith elements spotted include the following:

After having escaped the limitations imposed on him by Jim Crow laws and customs, Bernard becomes of of the most successful businessmen in the country. After a trip back to his hometown, Willis Texas, Bernard experiences the call to return and help the Black Community there by purchasing the town’s bank and begin offering credit to African Americans. He knows this is a risky proposition and that he will face extraordinary challenges and risks in doing so. Here he Bernard serves as a Moses figure, who, twice put the welfare of Hebrews above his interests, the first in defending Hebrews from abuse within Egypt and the second in returning to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery. In so doing Moses put himself and his wealth at risk. Throughout he Bible, ministry and the call to serve God in serving others involves risk and sacrifice. Exodus 3

Jesus’s parable of the talents calls disciples to use all the gifts and abilities given to them rather than bury them under fear and expectations of others. Both Bernard and George used the intellectual gifts God had given them. In particular the expectation placed upon Bernard was that he should not utilize his intellect to the fullest and be content to bury it by accepting the limitations Jim Crow society placed on him.  Matthew 25:14-30 Luke 16:6

God’s call is greater than the social and other worldly obstacles one will encounter following God’s calling and desire. Discipleship calls one to live by God’s perfect vision rather than one’s limited sight.  David and Goliath narrative 1 Samuel 17, 

In order to be able to serve God and live by faith and God’s vision persons of faith must do their spiritual homework by practicing spiritual disciplines such as Bible study, prayer, worship, and theological reflection. Worship: Psalm 100, Prayer: Jesus prays at Gethsemane prior to his arrest, Matthew 26, Mark 14, Paul teaches Christians in Rome to offer themselves as a living sacrifice which is spiritual worship. Romans 12:1-2, Paul urges Philippians to continue to follow what he had taught. Philippians 4:8-9

In Christ, Christians have received spiritual freedom from slavery to the limitations of the flesh. Followers of Jesus are called to use such freedom in serving and loving God by offering love through service to others. Galatians 5

Bernard Garett with Melvin Belli

About revkennydickson

I am a United Methodist minister and my professional passion is connecting issues of life and faith to film and other artforms. I am also interested in autism awareness and ministry and special needs. I am married to Michelle and have two children.
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