Faith Is on Display in UP Faith & Family’s MORGAN FAMILY STRONG

Craig Morgan/Facebook

Faith Is on Display in UP Faith & Family’s MORGAN FAMILY STRONG

By Movieguide® Contributor

Like looking with fascination at light refracting off from a prism, there is so much to catch on MORGAN FAMILY STRONG, a self-proclaimed docuseries (some call it a reality show) on UP Faith & Family. The Morgan brood itself encompasses: a military veteran’s family; a national celebrity’s complex daily life; a tragedy-stricken clan grieving the singular, young life of a son, a sibling, and an in-law; a bold line of entrepreneurs; and a faithful house not bashful of their Christian values and witness to the world.

MORGAN FAMILY STRONG, a 5-episode series streaming on UP Faith and Family, will keep you engaged, have you nodding in recognition of your own family dynamics, smiling often, feeling refreshingly inspired, and even wanting more, all as you peek backstage and beyond the front door to see the personal life of songwriter and recording star Craig Morgan.

Craig’s faith is viewed up front in the opening of Episode 1 as he leads an extemporaneous pre-concert prayer with his tour band; God-talk permeates each episode in natural, unforced conversation.

Faith is on display in the family business developed in the series, first from the Internet by out-of-town daughter Aly merely posting what her dad was making, then from a storefront called “The Gallery” in Dickson, near Nashville, where the merchandise takes one thing and makes it into something else, illustrating God’s redemption.

Handmade items like honey from Craig’s beehives and woodwork from his home’s shop are sold, the latter often including: crosses made of reclaimed scraps; and candle holders repurposed from chair or table legs. For everything there is a story and/or Scripture. Son Kyle makes wood beard-combs and beard oils, tested first upon his own mane. Kyle’s wife Chelsea channels her artistic talent through painting on bricks and old wood, as well as on traditional canvas framed with recycled wood.

College student son Wyatt uses his training in business to stage merchandise on the floor. Aly expanded the online presence, overseeing social media and public relations, yet also provides a line of beauty products made ostensibly from dad’s beeswax. Craig and spouse Karen can often be seen working with customers at the store when not on the road.

Taking one thing and making it into another; the idea of this family business was born precisely from the loss of Craig and Karen’s son Jerry in a boating accident on a local lake the previous year. As Jerry’s sister Aly described it, “even though this bad thing happened, we’re going to use it for good.”

Viewers learn that even filming the series was an intentional decision to document their redemptive offering to honor Jerry. And so the MORGAN FAMILY STRONG season moves through: the opening of the store; the family’s healing grief as they apply themselves to this new family venture; and the resumption of daily life, balancing careers and family lives already in progress, which for Craig means returning to the recording studio and touring with the band.

Craig’s wrap-up words of the last episode describe his and the family’s heart: “We want everyone to know that, in spite of the heartache and the hardship, with faith and family, you can keep moving, and life is and can be good, and there is joy. It’s not always easy to find, but it’s there.”

An integral part of his music and tours is honoring American military service members, veterans, and their families. Morgan talks about how his lyrics often draw upon people and experiences from his decade with the U.S. Army’s 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions, and then seven years in the reserves; his song “The Soldier” is given as a prime example. In addition with some 150 U.S.O. tours done at home and abroad, the tour shown in the series is dedicated to veterans, and will honor and surprise one particular vet’s family in the last episode.

The predominant worldview of MORGAN FAMILY STRONG is a very strong Christian stance, lifting up so many elements of faith in daily life and decision making. Extemporaneous prayer in Jesus’ name backstage before each concert, along with sealing oneself with the sign of the cross, is done simply and unapologetically.

Aly talks about the origins of Morgan Family Farm and The Gallery as what God called them to do. Redemption’s centrality to the entire venture is explicitly based upon God’s act of redeeming the world through the cross of Christ. Chelsea’s paintings are most often biblical scenes.

Along with the store’s clan-wide efforts, family values are cherished, and it’s not just “all work and no play”: one episode highlight’s grandchild Cruze’s 2nd birthday party; another episode has the family participate in an escape room event; and another features an electronics-free family vacation in the wilds of Alaska. Though typical family tensions are not white-washed, they are not the focus, either. The good comes with the bad, and the good here is way better than the bad.

 In the final episode, we are introduced to a Christian small group of local veterans that Craig began by inviting to meet at the store.

Lyrics performed from Craig’s song “That’s What I Love About Sunday” portray the many faceted joys of Christian worship: “Raymond’s in his Sunday best, He’s usually up to his chest, in oil an’ grease. There’s the Martin’s walkin’ in, With that mean little freckle-faced kid, Who broke a window last week. Sweet Miss Betty likes to sing off key, in the pew behind me. That’s what I love about Sunday. Sing along as the choir sways, Every verse of Amazing Grace, An’ then we shake the Preacher’s hand … That’s what I love about Sunday. New believers gettin’ baptized, Momma’s hands raised up high, Havin’ a Hallelujah good time. A smile on everybody’s face. That’s what I love about Sunday.”

Lots of other people found that infectious, as it rose to the Top Ten on the Billboard charts upon release.

Along with so many desirable elements, the content of  MORGAN FAMILY STRONG is wholly wholesome. Viewers will find no foul language, no violence, no nudity, no sexual content whether implied or depicted, no miscellaneous immorality, and  no drug or alcohol consumption, save one mention but no depiction of enjoying a glass of wine.

Smart editing is paramount amongst the high-quality production values, keeping the pace brisk, yet slowing when a moment needs to be appropriately taken, all within the standard format of alternating between action and head-and-shoulders reflections on the action. Camera work and lighting are stellar; private scenes capture emotional life without overdoing it. The producers and crew are totally unobtrusive, except when Craig cordially invites them to participate.

MORGAN FAMILY STRONG lifts high a Biblical, strongly Christian, worldview, with no questionable elements whatsoever. In fact, it offers a Christianity which is highly attractive and contagious.

Craig wrote a short theme song for the series, opening each episode, which includes these words describing his heart: “I wanna be good at life, I wanna get it right, I wanna be a light that shines so bright.”

As MORGAN FAMILY STRONG lights up the screen, Craig and household let their light so shine in the world that it brings glory to God … and instills in all of us viewers a yearning to shine with our own families in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Shine so bright!