Eat, Pray, Love Oprah
A Yale professor who claims to have studied nearly every episode of her show from the last 12 years says the talk show queen's success is due to one thing -- she has transformed herself into the equivalent of a religious icon.
By using the techniques of a preacher, Oprah has been able to create a new "gospel" that goes beyond just being a simple daytime TV show, Yale religion professor Kathryn Lofton writes in her new book.
"Gospel is a word that means 'good news,' " Lofton says. "Oprah says that the good news is 'you.'"
After poring over 1,560 show transcripts, 105 issues of O magazine, 17 issues of O at Home, 68 Book Club selections and 52 Spirit Newsletters, Lofton believes she can pinpoint the moment Oprah went from being a successful talk-show host to a religious icon in 1994.
The message of her shows became what Lofton calls a consistent gospel, The Gospel of You.
"It is your discovery of yourself as the source for change -- in yourself and in the world," she says.
The gospel of Oprah was perfectly suited for the beginning of a new century, the professor says.
"Women are asked to be perfect in many roles," Lofton says. "Oprah says, first, you don't have to be perfect; and second, she gives endless advice so you might try to be [perfect]."
And that, in a nutshell, says the professor, is the formula for a working religion.
The double whammy of being forgiven for your shortcomings and simultaneously being shown what you ought to be doing -- reading books, giving to charity, etc. -- is the secret of Oprah's success, she says.
Read the entire article here.Now, to be fair, the article doesn't indicate whether or not this Yale professor thinks Oprah's religious status is a good thing. To determine that I suppose one would have to read the book. And, honestly, I cannot argue with the conclusions she has reached. Oprah is a religious symbol and she does preach a "Gospel of You" of sorts. She's like Joel Osteen without the woefully twisted Scripture from Proverbs. I would add, though, that Oprah throws in a New Age twist, as she is a blatant proponent of eastern mysticism and meditation, which makes her influence even more dangerous.
I found this quote interesting: "Oprah says, first, you don't have to be perfect; and second, she gives endless advice so you might try to be [perfect]. And that, in a nutshell [...] is the formula for a working religion." Well, working your way to success--or even to Heaven--may be a "formula for a working religion" but it certainly isn't a formula for a religion that works! "Endless advice" about everything I need to do to be good, to be better, is really lousy news! But the Gospel message--that Jesus Christ did everything because I can do nothing of merit...now that's good news! I'd much rather secure my salvation on the work that Jesus Christ did than on anything I ever have or ever will strive to do; it's a far stronger foundation! Repentance of sin and faith in Christ, now there is a winning "formula!"
On another note, is anyone else disturbed by the fact that this so-called research was performed by a professor at Yale? Certainly Yale is no pinnacle of conservatism, but one would like to think that its professors have better ways to spend their time than "poring over" Oprah episodes and magazines!