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« Me, myself, and I | Main | More Trouble for Darwinism »

April 25, 2008

What is it about Oprah?

Oprah_1 I was intrigued to see this week that Dennis's post "Oprah Winfrey, the High Priestess of New Age Worldview" has been our #1 post among readers for four weeks straight. If memory serves me, no other post has ever matched that record, although I think Regis's "The Remains of Jesus Uncovered" came close (and is still getting comments over a year after it was published). Maybe Travis can set me straight if I'm wrong on this.

But I'm dying to know: What is it about Oprah that brings this reaction? Sure, she's famous -- very famous -- but we've posted about a lot of famous people. She's controversial, but we've covered lots of controversies too. She's teaching heresy -- and again, we talk about that kind of thing all the time. What about Oprah's particular combination of fame, controversy, and heresy attracts so much attention? I'd like to hear what some of you think.

Next week, I'll let you know if Oprah hit the top of the chart yet again -- though I may have just given her a bit of an artificial boost! The fact that Chuck Colson has a BreakPoint commentary coming up next week on her new venture with Eckhart Tolle might even propel her into a six-week run in the #1 spot.

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Comments

Pat

I have never listened to her or watched her program. Is it that we as Americans are so absorbed with celebrities especially the most demonics that it's up there with the news about the Pope's visit. I don't get it.

LeeQuod

And, what is it about Oprah's particular heresy THAT BRINGS OUT THE PEOPLE WHOSE CAPS LOCK KEYS ARE STUCK IN THE "SHOUTING" POSITION?

dennis babish

Gina,
I have a very large family. :D
Seriously, when I wrote the article I felt that Oprah's influence is so great and very New Age that these programs she is doing is going to lead many people down the wrong path. I felt compelled to point that out and also her leadership role in obtaining converts for New Age.
The fact that the article has been the #1 post all those weeks reinforces these facts. Oprah attracts and needs our prayers.

jhaas

Oprah is amazingly influential, like no celebrity has been for a long time. She mentions a book on her show and it becomes a bestseller. She brings on an expert to tell you how to change your life for the better and people do it. I'm not sure why this happens, if it's because she likes to give things away on her show (or on her new show) or her general "you should feel good about yourself and if you don't I'll show you how" attitude. She becomes dangerous when she acts like a Christian, but denies Christ.

Rolley Haggard

Echoing Diane Singer’s remarks (http://thepoint.breakpoint.org/2008/03/chuck-norris-on.html ), I would add that in the same way a kindly persona is always infinitely more effective than the undisguised ogre in seducing Hansels and Gretels, so the instruments of man’s Archenemy are most effective when they appear as angels of light. To many, Oprah is just that – an angel of light; a kind and compassionate messenger of encouragement, insight, guidance, and most of all hope. And as long as her errors are to common sensibilities vague, slight, or seemingly innocuous, they will be overlooked if the concomitant benefits are great enough.

In many important respects Oprah seems to have her “act together” far more than many who purport to have answers to the needs of the common man. Who is to say (the thinking goes) that her “togetherness” is not the result of her beliefs? And if it is, maybe I can have what she has. The dainty morsel seems tasty indeed, and the temptation is to swallow it whole.

Please note that I by no means intend to suggest or imply that Oprah willingly or wittingly serves the Prince of Darkness grim. But neither did the beloved Peter, and yet at least on one occasion he warranted the corrective rebuke, “Get thee behind Me, Satan.” (BTW, this is not to liken Oprah to Peter, either, just to make the point that one can be an unwitting servant).

The most effective antichrist is the one who appears most like Christ (sans the offense of the cross), for then s/he seduces not only unbelievers, but undiscerning believers.

The point is, a big reason for Oprah’s immense popularity is she strikes us as one who can be trusted to help with our most vexing issues. And we simply cannot picture her with a bubbling cauldron.

squirrelx

How many Obama votes will be bought when Oprah gives cars to the audience in Las Vegas today at Caesar's Palace?

Ron

Oprah gave NOTHING to guests in the audience; she is a big phony and next she will be promoting Scientology with Tom Cruise. BEWARE of this "Angel of Light".

Patsy

People love her because they admire her history, her beauty, and her intelligence and success. But they should pray that God will bring, through Oprah's heretical declarations, a revival of interest across this nation, in learning what the sacrifice of Jesus Christ meant according to the Bible. "Narrow is the gate which leads to eternal life."

Steve

Something I ponder a lot, and would love to hear other's thoughts on the matter:

What is the greater threat of our age, skepticism or credulity?

I mean, Dawkins & Co are loud, obnoxious, and command a lot of attention, but their actual following is meager. On the other hand, the numbers who fall for the new age nonsense and a thousand other fantasies are legion. Like Chesterton said, they start believing in anything...

Methinks that in this fight I'd rather stand alongside the atheists, who at least accept that truth claims ought to be examined critically (even if they don't exactly practice what they preach).

What do the rest of you think? Which is worse? Which is the greater problem Christian apologists ought to confront?

LeeQuod

Steve (or at least, one of them :-)) wrote: "What is the greater threat of our age, skepticism or credulity?"

I consider myself a "Christian skeptic" in that the fundamentals of my belief system rest on critical examination of truth claims.

But I'm also part of an older generation that focused on truth. So I'd say you're pursuing a somewhat false dichotomy, Steve.

But to answer your question directly, I've seen more people drift from Christianity to other religions, and back again. However, a skeptic who's been converted is unlikely to disbelieve, simply because of the effort required to get them to believe in the first place. But those who believe easily often also disbelieve easily.

Steve

LeeQuod,
I'm not sure I understand why you think the dichotomy is false. I'll grant that the most prominent skeptics can be quite credulous when it comes to, say, evolution or "global warming", but at least they pay homage to the ideas of evidence and logic. The credulous - including the majority of Americans who fall for either astrology, new age, ESP, or extraterrestrials (the list is endless) - may express skepticism toward Christianity, but challenge them with a truth claim and you're more likely to get an insouciant and brainless "whatever" or "I feel..." The Christian community is not immune. I won't step on any toes (just this once!), but most of us could cite one or more popular beliefs in the American evangelical subculture that we personally might think silly.

I was also thinking in much broader terms than the mere matter of conversion, for which your analysis was quite apropos. There are other issues to be considered: being good disciples, honoring truth for its own sake, promoting sound policies, discerning right from wrong, etc.

Switching gears a bit but still sticking to the original subject, I suggest that Oprah's influence be added to the list of obesity, laziness, idiocy, and other toxic effects of excessive television viewing.

jhaas

Steve,
This may not be the best place to put this, not wanting to get far off the topic, but yesterday I saw the movie "Expelled" and thought about the same idea you expressed... "Methinks that in this fight I'd rather stand alongside the atheists, who at least accept that truth claims ought to be examined critically ". In fact before going to the movie I told my son, who goes to a Christian school to keep an open mind. I remember Francis Schaeffer teaching that if Christianity is true we have nothing to fear from any other philosophical ideas.
We should always be ready to defend our faith, and to do it intelligently and with all humility. The Bible speaks often about God having blinded the understanding of some (Mark 4:11-12). I agree that the greatest ideological threat is from ideas which masquerade as Christian, but are in fact “sheep in wolf’s clothing”. However the greatest apologetic any Christian can have is not is reasoned debate, but an untiring devotion to Jesus Christ as expressed in selflessness and self sacrifice for others, “they will know we are Christians by our love”. We can defend the faith in our speech, but we must do it always taking our opponent’s remarks in their best light with the humility that we do not have all the answers. We have the comfort of knowing that while we may not know all, we serve the One who does know everything and will give the answers to every question in His own time.

LeeQuod

Steve wrote: "LeeQuod, I'm not sure I understand why you think the dichotomy is false."

I was thinking of postmodernism, my friend. Many people do not fit neatly into the category of being skeptical of all truth, nor credulous toward it, but in fact denying its universality. Practical dialog with such people is nigh impossible because truth and the means for arriving at truth are entirely individual.

And you're right that conversion is only the first of many steps, all of which require the simultaneous skepticism of a serpent and the credulity of a dove.

I'm trying hard to not hijack the thread, but I find it interesting that the debate format (so well championed by the dear departed Bill Buckley) has all but disappeared from television except during presidential campaigns. I'd love to see Oprah host a friendly discussion between Tolle and, say, Ravi Zacharias.

But perhaps Oprah sees her role as less of a helper to her audience, and more of a shepherd. Sadly, her viewers don't seem to know the difference between supplying wool and supplying mutton.

harvey Ward

She's tarting up the corpses
making the shroud smell like Chanel
Plasters rouge on lifeless lips
Paints mascara on marble eyelids
Oh Oprah!
Youve come to give life
and that more abundantly
sans cellulite and stress
What of hope to the aching heart
Each passing beat lost like the soul it sustains
Death seeming too far away
From your endless cheer
But what balm or potion could delay
our destiny on Judgement Day ... or yours?
Dressing up the stiffened
(Theyre looking pretty good)
Pampering celebrity
and Godless neighbourhood
Doffs her cap to the religious
while becoming god herself
with off the cuff forgiveness
absolution off the shelf
A Fisher Queen, with guarantees
they bow and scrape to serve your fame
gushing billboards, preening smiles
perfuming the worlds mortal wounds
With all the tools at your command
what work for Him who fashioned you!
For millions swimming in the storm
fragile lives held in the scales
an island's food - shelters firm
a family's years supply of life
funded but just one
of your golden seconds.

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