Television

Poperah

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A lot of Christians are angry at Oprah about her latest book club selection, Eckhart Tolle's New Age tome A New Earth. Here is one of many YouTube videos attacking her:

That clip is called The Church of Oprah Exposed; it is, among other things, a promo for Carrington Steele's book and DVD Don't Drink the Kool-Aid: Oprah, Obama, and the Occult. (Yes, of course there's an Obama angle. Apparently Jeremiah Wright isn't the only controversial preacher in his life.)

It isn't just fringy Christians who talk about a Church of Oprah. In 2002 the deeply mainstream Christianity Today published a famous article, "The Church of O," that makes a more respectful, less paranoid argument that Oprah is a spiritual leader. The best quote in it comes from a Bible teacher in Chicago: "I like Oprah. I'm a closet groupie, though, because her theology's a little off." Another Chicago Christian—the infamous Rev. Wright—has a good line as well: "Somebody who makes $100 a week has no problem tithing. But start making $35 million a year, and you'll want to renegotiate the contract. You don't want to be a part of 'organized religion' at that point."

Over in the ivory tower, Prof. Kathryn Lofton of Indiana University has taken a slightly different approach, arguing that "Oprah does things in a religious manner, but she is not a religion." She goes on:

"She endorses some modes of theological existence, but dislikes many more. For her, religion implies control and oppression and the inability to catalog shop. The only way religion or religious belief works for Oprah is if it is carefully coordinated with capitalist pleasure. Thus, the turn to 'spirituality'—the non-dogmatic dogma that encourages an ambiguous theism alongside an exuberant consumerism," Lofton said.

In Winfrey's view, Buddhism isn't about meditation and renunciation, it's about beaded bracelets and fragrant incense. "Christianity isn't about Christ's apocalyptic visions or the memorization of creeds, it's about a friendly guy named Jesus and his egalitarian message. As long as you can spend, feel good about yourself and look good, your religious belief will be tolerated on Planet O. The religion of Oprah is the incorporated faith of late-capitalist America," Lofton said.

Sort of a mellower, bourgier version of the spiritual jacuzzi I described in reason in May 2003. That article concluded with a look at Discordianism, the Church of the SubGenius, and other "joke religions"—I wrote it too early to include the Flying Spaghetti Monster—so I shouldn't end this post without mentioning that Oprahism has manifested itself in that sphere as well. Here's one more YouTube clip:

For extra credit, read the comment thread on that film's YouTube page. The Carrington Steele crowd has discovered the video and seems to be taking it literally. God bless the Internet: bringing mutually incomprehending tribes together since 1969.

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  1. Flying Spaghetti Monster is a joke religion?!?

    May he strike you down in a furious rain of puttanesca sauce!

  2. Jesse, I am disappointed that you fail to mention the First Church of Shatnerology. Especially on a day when Nick posted him singing “Rocket Man”.

  3. some guy recently tried to convert me to Tolle-ism in a recent thread.

    creepy guy. It had something to do with my ego being too large.

    first my penis, then my ego. What next?

  4. first my penis, then my ego. What next?

    Your lies.

  5. Oprah’s “life partner”, Stedman Graham, is a gay man. Oprah herself is also gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!!

    1. Stedman, we’re gonna get this bitch!

  6. Episiarch | April 10, 2008, 12:51pm | #

    Your lies.

    Thats it. You’re getting a hi-def photo with a penny next to it.

    Also, there’s a famous quote about “the bigger the lie, the more believable it is”.

    Which works both for and against 9/11 truthers. And religious types

  7. For extra credit, read the comment thread on that film’s YouTube page.

    You must hate this blog’s readers to suggest such a thing. YouTube comment threads are the lowest form of discourse in history, even lower than grunting or poo-flinging.

  8. No mention of the Invisible Pink Unicorn, PBUH? We know She is invisible because we cannot see her, and we know She is pink because we have faith.

  9. I don’t care if you’re a Christian or a Truther, an Atheist or a UFOlogist. DON’T BELEIVE WHAT YOU READ ON THE INTERNET! Sheesh.

    Many Christians faithfully follow the teaching of Jesus, feed the poor, clothe the homeless, and truly bear the fruits of the spirit. And then there are the nutbag Christians, who believe anything written by any “Christian” author. They believe that Hal Lindsay is more authoritative than Saint John. They believe that Harry Potter is satanic and Twinkie Winkie is gay. They worship Man not God. They have the heretical belief that Christians are incapable of error. Any email sent to them by a concerned “Christian” is inerrant, and must be forwarded on to as many people as possible.

    Let’s take care of the log of maimed children in Iraq before we start worrying about the mote of Oprah’s pop-theology.

  10. The religion of O is not hard to explain.
    Dumb housewives lapping up lazy, liberal philosophical tidbits in order to feel like they have some sort of meaning in their lives.

  11. You didn’t mention lolCATolichttp://www.lolcatbible.com/index.php?title=Main_Page

  12. I had my wife sign a pre-nup that if she ever watches that fat cow on TV or buys anything she endorses, I get the kids, the condo and the right to unceremoniously shoot her in the face with a Glock.

  13. So you don’t like her, Jamie?

  14. “Dumb housewives lapping up lazy, liberal philosophical tidbits in order to feel like they have some sort of meaning in their lives”

    Jamie, in 30AD or present day, it was ever thus.

  15. If anything, that video makes me respect Oprah more.

    I guess this is what happens when they don’t have Mitt Romney to kick around anymore.

  16. I love it when the cuckoo kettle calls the retarded pot “black”.

  17. So you don’t like her, Jamie?

    I liked her in “The Color Purple.”
    But now, I just sort of want to turn both her eyes purple before I burn her mansions down.

  18. Oprah hasn’t been the same since her minge and anus died.

  19. But to be fair, if Giada De Laurentiis told me to buy something I’d whimper and obey.

  20. “I had my wife sign a pre-nup that if she ever watches that fat cow on TV or buys anything she endorses, I get the kids, the condo and the right to unceremoniously shoot her in the face with a Glock.”

    Jamie has a wife and kids? That’s proof. THERE IS A GOD!

  21. Jamie has a wife and kids? That’s proof. THERE IS A GOD!

    His wife considers it proof that there is a satan.

  22. How dreary to be Somebody.
    How public, like a frog.
    To tell your name the livelong day
    To an admiring bog.

  23. His wife considers it proof that there is a satan.

    Nah. She considers it proof that even the most unerudite, slightly-overweight, mediocre-journalist, hack-jazz-pianist loser can get his dick wet a few times a week.
    And of course, that’s why I love her.

  24. Come on folks. Do you really think they’re his kids?

  25. Come on folks. Do you really think they’re his kids?

    Well, they do sort of look like Kang and Kodos. But I hear tentacles and one eyeball are both recessive genes.

  26. Doesn’t it seem a bit transparent that Wright doesn’t like Oprah’s brand of spirituality because…she doesn’t tithe enough?

    And that Lofton doesn’t like Oprah’s brand of spirituality because…it’s not unpleasant enough?

    And that these criticisms demonstrate nothing about Oprah, really, but demonstrate instead that:

    1. Christianity is all about money.

    and

    2. Kathryn Lofton is a masochist who wants Jesus to tie her up and do things to her?

  27. religion implies control and oppression and the inability to catalog shop.

    carefully coordinated with capitalist pleasure.

    alongside an exuberant consumerism

    Oprah is the incorporated faith of late-capitalist America

    A career in American Higher Education. No heavy lifting and no strenuous thought processing required (or encouraged). Nice gig if you can get it.

  28. Doesn’t it seem a bit transparent that Wright doesn’t like Oprah’s brand of spirituality because…she doesn’t tithe enough?

    That’s why it’s such a great quote

  29. I went (against my better judgement) to look at the comments on that YouTube page. What a train wreck!*

    The raving loony contingent of the fundie population is there, going on about Oprah as antichrist and the love of Jesus and the involvement of Oprah in 9/11 (I wish I were making that up). And every sneeringly condescending “only Jesus can save you from hell!” comment has a whole bunch of thumbs-ups from the Godly Hordes.

    I was tempted, but I declined to participate. When it comes to Oprah v. the Fundies, I don’t think I’ve got a god dog in that fight.

    * It’s kind of refreshing to be able to say that about a comment thread that isn’t at H&R.

  30. DON’T BELEIVE WHAT YOU READ ON THE INTERNET!

    Well, present website excluded, of course.

    Doesn’t it seem a bit transparent that Wright doesn’t like Oprah’s brand of spirituality because…she doesn’t tithe enough?

    That’s how I read it. I’m guessing he thought he’d won the lottery and put the squeeze on her for a full 10%, but she laughed in his face and walked.

  31. I caught a little bit of Eckhart Tolle on Oprah. Everything he said just seemed like common sensical advice, but all dressed up in a kind of Freudian / New Age vocabulary where he’s made up new meanings for a lot of words like “ego” that already had meanings.

  32. I think I’ve said it here before. Oprah has way more moral influence over American women than the Pope.

  33. Jamie Kelly,

    I realized after posting that I’d omiitted the 😉

    Thanks for not getting pssy.

  34. As long as you can spend, feel good about yourself and look good, your religious belief will be tolerated on Planet O

    That’s not much different than any of the Christian leaders from Pat Robertson to Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker to Joel Osteen who preach prosperity theology. Oprah’s just expanding the scope of higher powers that want to shower us with bling and finding a larger audience to share it with profit from. She’s a rogue bookstore manager who’s merging Religion with the Self-Help books and placing it as a sub-category in the Business section.

  35. I think I’ve said it here before. Oprah has way more moral influence over American women than the Pope.

    If Oprah had endorsed Hillary Clinton instead of Barack Obama, Hillary would have sewn up the Dem nomination long ago.

  36. Neon lights, a nobel prize’
    The mirror speaks, the reflection lies.
    You dont have to follow me,
    Only you can set me free.
    I sell the things you need to be
    I’m the smiling face on your T.V.

  37. Sorry Oprah…it’s your money that has allowed you to cloud not only your judgement but others as well. Shame on you. Money is not the answer, as you have already found out which is why you continue on this way.

  38. This man lied when he said that Jesus said “You are the Light of the World” What he said was “I am the Light of the World’ And of course Oprah missed that because she knows nothing of Jesus.What she and the others in this Cult are doing..is rejecting Jesus and creating a Cult where there is no sin and therefore you can do whatever you want.This is exactly what the “Evil One” wants of us. He is the King of “lies” and he loves nothing better than for us and Oprah and these leaders of this cult to lie their way into people’s lives who also want to change morals to fit their lifestyles. Obama is another one.He actually said that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount said that Jesus condoned Abortion and Homosexual marriage.This is another Lie! If he is elected him and his hateful wife and Oprah will do all they can to lead us astray!

  39. I’m not a buddhist, but buddhism isn’t actually about “meditation and renunciation.” Google “Four Noble Truths” and “Eightfold Path” if you don’t believe me. Professor Lofton seems to be upset that her stereotypical view of religion is different than Oprah’s.

    I suspect she is actually upset that Oprah’s version is more popular.

  40. Oprah “lost” me when she started pushing “the secret” (i.e. the laws of attraction).

    So you wish and it’s yours…
    So if you are a poor farmer in the Visayas and wish for a million pesos, voila, you’re rich…and if you aren’t rich, it’s your fault.

    This is not only bad theology, and anti rational, but it is so elitist it makes me “suka”.

    The real question is why it took so long for churches to notice these things…

  41. DON’T BELEIVE WHAT YOU READ ON THE INTERNET!

    OK.

    In case you didn’t get the hint…

  42. Tolle is Scotland is a kid’s word for ‘poop.’

    Out of the mouth of infants, I guess…

  43. Who is this “Oprah” you’re all talking about?

    Is she some sort of entertainer or something?

  44. The laws of attraction really work.

    Mass attracts mass.

    Positive charges attract negative charges.

    North poles attract south poles.

    And you can use those laws of attraction to your advantage.

  45. Peter Cardarelli (or something),
    Jesus probably said a lot of things that weren’t recorded because his listeners might have dozed off once or twice or gone out for a coffee break during a crucial teaching. Also, there are other gospels but what was decided should be included in the canon came down to politics – nothing revealed about that. If you think what’s in the Bible is the complete teachings, or that they aren’t open to interpretation (given all the cultural and linguistic complexity involved) then you are most likely a tool of some idiotic televangelist.

  46. Jesus said ” I am the way, the truth and the life, No man comes unto the father, but my me.” John14:6. Instead of a Bible lesson, I will just say this, being a Christian is a decision. that simple. We either believe it or not. Oprahs moronic view that “feeling” is somehow higher than “believing”,, all I can say is,, well, moronic. Today you feel god. Tomorrow you don’t. So,, today there is a god, tomorrow there isn’t. Whatever. People make a fortune becoming a personality on TV and selling magazines of themselves. They live in an empire they have built for themselves. Millions know your face and worship your every word. How tempting it must be to consider yourself so wise, so smart, so important. Just like all the other smart rich and powerful that have ever come before her. The cemeteries and tombs of the world are filled with the indispensable, the rich and the famous. All that they ever owned now belongs to others, their names have long been forgotten. It will be better to have died lost, broke and unknown, than to have died living a life of wealth, fame and influence, responsible not just for your own lost soul, but, leading thousands of others to the pit as well.

  47. Well, Mike L,
    That’s a question begging presumption. How would you know her soul is lost? Does your God actually whisper who he damns into your ear? You’re an arrogant, presumptive prick. Get over yourself.

  48. We either believe it or not. Oprahs moronic view that “feeling” is somehow higher than “believing”,, all I can say is,, well, moronic. Today you feel god. Tomorrow you don’t.

    Well, at first I could “feel” what you’re saying, but now I “believe” I don’t. Can you explain this to me?

  49. re: “Christianity is all about money”

    Christian churches request donations and financial support. Tithing is a custom from the Old Testament.

  50. How does the fundamentalist square the fact that the gospels don’t agree on a number of things. The order of events is different in John than in the other gospels. There are numerous other discrepancies.

    Jesus spoke in Aramaic, a dialect of Hebrew. Some 40 years later, the first gospel was written in Greek. Then later, translated into numerous languages and subject to interpretation. Not written down for 40 years (ever play Chinese whispers?)! So, a sentence in early modern Enlish like “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light. No one comes to the Father but by me” was rendered this way through numerous hands, cultures, and languages. Considering all that, and the numerous discrepancies in the Bible, a belief in Biblical literalism and Biblical inerrancy is either incredibly ignorant and naive or arrogant or both.

  51. To Mike L and Peter Caradelli:

    You should realize that Oprah helps your little operations long-term by encouraging the sort of mushy retarded thinking that goes by the title of “spirituality”. Before anyone can come to Jesus in the way you want, they first have to be a fucking retard wearing clown shoes.

    By turning the minds of millions of housewives to jelly, Oprah is helping to maintain a pool of potential recruits for you. Everyone who responds to Oprah’s touchy-feely spirituality may one day respond to some creepy televangelist too. She’s keeping the door open for you. So cut her some slack.

  52. Well, like I said. It’s a decision. I have decided to believe the Bible. I believe that Jesus was Who and What the Bible says He is. I believe His death on the cross paid the price for my sins, and yours. I believe He rose again on the 3rd day, just as the Bible says, and that he is coming back again. So, we have a choice. We can choose hell if we want to. Or, we can choose life. I choose the Bible. I choose Jesus. You can choose what you want to.

    1. I’m not sure “choose” is the right word for what I did. I tried to choose believe the Bible, but the more I read, the more I thought, “This shit is absolutely unbelievable!”

      So what happened was a failed attempt at belief, not a successful attempt at doubt.

  53. Oprah is a business woman. She make money off everything she promotes. Tole has probably put another million in her purse.

  54. they first have to be a fucking retard wearing clown shoes

    Fucking great. I may have to steal this.

  55. “In the Samm?di??hi Sutta (“Right View Discourse”), Ven. Sariputta instructs that right view can alternately be attained by the thorough understanding of the unwholesome and the wholesome, the four nutriments, the twelve nidanas or the three taints.”

    Does The Urk*b*ld know of this?

  56. In the last days false anointed ones, false christs shall come saying “..I am anointed …I am the christ (Matthew 24(small c )). These false teachers with seducing spirits seduce their hearers who have itching ears and these that do not have THE TRUE DESIRE FOR THE TRUE UNADULTERATED TRUTH OF THE REVEALED WORD OF GOD FOR THEIR DAY ,drink from the stagnant waters of defiled religion polluted with the filth of doctrines of devils.( 1 Timothy 4 verses 1 to 15). If people want the truth,about the WORD OF GOD, pray and read your Bible with an open heart and ask GOD to lead and guide you into all truth and FIND A CHURCH THAT PREACHES THE TRUE WORD OF GOD AND NOT ANOTHER GOSPEL AMEN AND AMEN,AND PRAY THAT GOD WILL KEEP you clear of false prophets,false teachers, false churches and false religions.There is THE WAY,THE TRUTH ,AND THE LIFE. GOD IS ABLE TO SAVE US FROM THE CORRUPTION OF SIN THROUGH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST. CHRISTIANITY IS THE ONLY RELIGION THAT HAS THE FOUNDER OF THE RELIGION THAT DIED AND ROSE AGAIN ,VICTORIOUS OVER DEATH ,HELL AND THE GRAVE AND IS ALIVE FOR EVERMORE DWELLING IN THE HEARTS OF EVERY TRUE BELIEVER AMEN AND AMEN. Truth and when Amen and Amen. Errol Smythe.

  57. Why do fundamentalists hate paragraphs?

  58. I guess I missed the episode where Oprah said “I am anointed… I am the Christ.”

    Was that last season?

    Did the audience find communion wafers under their seats, or what?

  59. “I believe He rose again on the 3rd day, just as the Bible says”

    Which gospel, Mike L.? John, Luke?
    And what about those gospels? that were at one time considered for Biblical entry but were ‘voted down’?

    But I don’t really mind wacky, thoughtless, religious teachings as long as they aren’t forced on me or supported by the state? U.S. Department of Peace?! Just leave people alone, that will do more for peace than anything. Once you start using the trappings of government to promote your own vision of faith, then you’re just itching for fisticuffs from another religious worldview.

    In short though, fundamentalist Muslims and Christians are a match made in heaven. Fundy Muslims want to kill people and fundy Christians want to be killed.

  60. oops, missplaced (?)’s.

  61. May Oprah shower you with Her blessings and Favorite Things for your grand effort in spreading the Holy Word of the Blessed Oprah! Peace be upon you and your television! For is it not said in the Holy Book of O, “Blessed are those who hear the word of the Oprah and observe it, blessed are those who make Oprah videos for YouTubes, and blessed are those who embed those videos in their blogs.”? For yea, it is so written. Your reward for evangelizing the Blessed Word will be waiting in your gift bag when you arrive at the pearly gates of Harpo Studios in the afterlife. Praise be!

    O-men,
    Davis McDavis
    Founder, First Church of O, The Oprah Religion

  62. BOB IS BOB AND THAT IS THAT.
    EVERY BOBJOB THAT BEAUTIFUL CONNIE IMPARTS TO HIS KNOB INCREASES THE GIRTH OF THE SLACKFUL PENIS.
    THIS IS THE TRUE MEASURE OF FAITH.
    IT IS CAPITALIZED SO MOTE IT BE.

  63. Who is Oprah Winfrey?

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  66. Wow, so my friend (Corey Macomber) and I actually coined this term long before Stephen Colbert “coined it”. Back when we were in 7th grade (Autumn of 2002), we came up with our own version of the West Gazette (a school newletter) that we made as a joke. I still have one of the originals, if someone feels like having it carbon-dated to prove that we actually came up with the idea.

    The online version of the story (which, ironically and unfortunately, I actually typed up just three months after he made his own reference) is located here:
    http://www.associatedcontent.c…..html?cat=9

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